Tsar Nicholas II: Myths and Reality

Click on the image above to watch this 14 minute video [in English]

This is one of the finest videos produced to date by the Mesa Potamos Publications. Thanks to the research of Father Andrew Phillips, it provides viewers with many new facts, which are often overlooked or ignored by Western historians. This video is a “MUST” watch for any one interested in the truth about Russia’s much slandered Tsar.



‘A weak, stupid, incompetent reactionary, who blocked progress towards a Western-style constitutional monarchy or republic. Such is the primitive Western stereotype of the much-slandered and later martyred Tsar Nicholas II, whose only real fault was probably that he was too kind. In actual fact, the above widely- repeated stereotype says very little about him, but far more about the hateful xenophobia and arrogant, hypocritical and self-justifying prejudices of those who hold it.

What they are saying in reality is that the innocent Tsar, who opposed their Western materialist ‘progress’, had to be destroyed, however embarrassing to them the barbaric manner of his and his family’s deaths. The remarkable thing is that this anti-Russian Western historiography coincides perfectly with both Soviet and pre-Revolutionary anti-Orthodox historiography. Why? Simply because its writers have the same sources – in the same anti-Christian, materialist ideology which developed in the West and which the West has spread worldwide. What are some of these myths?


Serfdom was not Russian – it was introduced from the West together with absolutism, i.e. tyrannical monarchism. Serfdom was gradually introduced into Russia by Western rulers or rulers with a Western mentality, notably the Emperor Peter I and the German Empress Catherine II. It lasted only some 200 years and was abolished peacefully before the USA abolished its system of slavery – only in the USA it took a dreadful war and half a million dead before slavery there could be abolished. As regards Western Europe, it should be added in the nineteenth century the condition of its agricultural workers and toiling industrial masses was little better than slavery.

Tsar Nicholas’ Personality

Tsar Nicholas spoke five languages fluently, had travelled the world and was very well-acquainted with European history. To call him stupid or intellectually limited is absurd. True, he was not an ‘intellectual’ – but then has any intellectual ever made a great ruler? If he had been weak, he would have fallen to the stress of being Tsar long before the First World War. If he had been weak, he would never have taken over the command of his Armed Forces from the incompetent in August 1915. He was not incompetent – though many of the generals, ministers, aristocrats and bureaucrats around him, including his Romanov cousins, certainly were incompetent – as well as being futile idlers.

One of the Tsar’s greatest problems here was finding disinterested, trustworthy and competent administrators. It was precisely the treachery of untrustworthy and incompetent careerists that brought about the Tsar’s abdication. To call the Tsar reactionary is also absurd. For instance, it was he who, against all the advice, appointed the brilliant liberal Petr Stolypin as his Prime Minister. He taxed the rich and gave to the poor, turning peasants into landowners – much to the irritation of certain Romanov family members and other over-wealthy aristocrats, who then plotted against the Tsar. The tragedy was that Stolypin was assassinated by a terrorist after only five years at the helm and before his reforms had obtained all the results required.

Tsarina Alexandra’s Personality

The Tsarina was not hysterical, immoral or pro-German. She identified fully with Orthodox Russia; her alienation from decadent St Petersburg society was precisely because she was moral. And having seen her kingdom of Hesse destroyed by Prussianism, she only had dislike for the German militarism that lay behind the Kaiser’s War. She certainly suffered greatly with anguish at her son’s condition, but as for hysterical, how could she have been, when she chose to wash and dress the wounds of soldiers day in, day out for two years?


The quite unforeseen stampede of people at Khodynka Field after the Tsar’s coronation in 1896, in which many hundreds died can hardly be blamed on the Tsar. Like recent stampedes in Western countries, it was a dreadful accident, causing the death of hundreds in a then unprecedented crowd of 500,000. The compassionate Tsar gave the families of those who had suffered large sums of his own money in compensation.


By far the worst anti-Jewish riots (‘pogroms’) at the turn of the century took place not in the Russian Empire, but in Berlin, Vienna and elsewhere in Western Europe. (Who has forgotten Dreyfus?). In Russia these riots were strongly discouraged and involved small numbers in Poland, Bessarabia and the western Ukraine. The Tsar’s government did its utmost to defend the Jews of his Empire, who had moved there, seeking protection from persecution in Western Europe. Thus, the Jews were kept away from large areas of Russia for their own protection from peasants, who felt exploited and aggrieved by the successful commercial genius of the Jews. As we all know, it was not Russians who killed millions of Jews in the 1940s, but Western Europeans – and, it should be said, not only Germans.

The Russo-Japanese War

A belligerent, impatient and imperialistic Japan attacked Russia without warning at Port Arthur in 1905, just as it attacked the USA without warning at Pearl Harbour in 1941. Russian unpreparedness came in part because it had spent so little on its armed forces – unlike the aggressive Western nations and their imitator – Japan. It was Tsar Nicholas who had proposed international disarmament at the Hague. To accuse this peacemaker of starting the war to create national unity is simply a myth of those who know no history. With only about a quarter of Western European and Japanese military spending, a peace-directed Russia was ill-equipped to fight a war thousands of miles from its capital. To blame the Tsar for Japanese aggression or the disastrous inefficiency of individuals in his administration before and during that war is hardly just.

Bloody Sunday

In the absence of the Tsar from St Petersburg (because of the almost successful assassination attempt on him and his family three weeks before), a violent mob (and not ‘peaceful and unarmed’, as the Western propaganda goes), burning and looting vehicles and other property revolted on Bloody Sunday in 1905. It was led by a renegade, twice-married priest, Fr George Gapon, who hanged himself the next year, when it was discovered that he was in fact a secret agent. In order to defend the fearful citizens of St Petersburg, troops opened fire and tragically killed about 100 of the mob, not ‘thousands’, as the Western propaganda goes. The soldiers had to open fire in defence of the people of St Petersburg, who had barricaded themselves inside their homes from terror. The tragedy was that people died.

Russia’s Alleged Backwardness

Russia was not as backward as the Western media make out. In many respects much of Western Europe and the USA were far more backward. In 20 years under Tsar Nicholas II the population of his realm increased from 123 million to 175 million. By 1913 the speed of industrial development in Russia had outstripped that of the USA. By 1913 its grain production had outstripped that of the USA, Canada and Argentina combined by one third. The Russian Empire had become the granary of Europe; its grain production increased by 70% between 1894 and 1914. Between 1894 and 1913 its industrial production quadrupled. In 1914 the French economist Edmond Théry predicted that by 1950 Russia would dominate Europe politically, economically and financially.

Social Insurance was introduced in 1912, and there was a factory inspectorate, but laws banning certain forms of exploitation had been passed for the first time in the world as early as the eighteenth century, including introducing a maximum ten-hour day. 80% of the arable land was in the hands of the peasants by 1914, the Tsar himself freely giving up 40 million hectares of land in Siberia. So many tens of thousands of schools were opened that by 1917 the level of literacy stood at 85% – comparable to that in the USA today. The Tsar’s Russia was not destroyed because it was ‘backward’, but because it was the last bulwark of Christianity and the materialist enemies of the Gospel, Capitalist or Communist, could not tolerate that.

World War I

The aim of the Western Allies was not only to defeat Germany. It was also to weaken and divide Russia. The West knew that with thirty more years of peace, Russia would become the most prosperous nation in the world. The West would not allow this. Thus, as soon as the Western-organised Revolution had taken place in early 1917, the USA entered the War and the American century began. By 1945 all of Western Europe had become the USA’s puppets. This was no coincidence. The Tsar’s loyalty to the Allies forbade him from making any separate peace; sadly, his loyalty and sacrifices for the Allied cause was met by the Allies’ disloyalty to him and his realm. What was remarkable about the outcome of the War was the treachery of the West. At the Tsar’s abdication, Lloyd George actually said in Parliament that through it ‘Britain has achieved one of its major war aims’!

After the coup d’état of the Bolsheviks, who seized power from the incompetent aristocrats and bourgeoisie who had carried out the Revolution, the British landed in the far north and at Baku in the far south of the Russian Empire, giving independence to Azerbaijan, as they were greedy for its oil. The Italians marched into Georgia and created an independent state there, as they were greedy for its manganese. The French occupied Odessa and intrigued for the independence of the Ukraine. Instead of equipping the Whites, the West gave its arms to the Poles, who then invaded and occupied Kiev and Smolensk. Then the Americans and the Japanese landed in Vladivostok. The renegade General Brusilov who had passed from White to Red, remarked that, ‘The Poles are besieging Russian fortresses with the help of the nations whom we rescued from certain defeat at the beginning of the War’. Even though he was a traitor to the Tsar, here he spoke the truth.


This video is produced as part of the project for the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs, which is an impressive 512-page book, featuring nearly 200 black & white photographs, and a 56-page photo insert of more than 80 high-quality images, colorized by the acclaimed Russian artist Olga Shirnina (Klimbim) and appearing here in print for the first time. EXPLORE the book / ORDER the book.

© Father Andrew Phillips. 4 October 2021

Healthcare reform under Nicholas II

PHOTO: Nicholas II with wounded soldiers at a military hospital near the front in World War I. Artist: Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko (1970-2014)

During the 1920s, the Bolsheviks boasted of how they had improved healthcare in Russia after the overthrow of Nicholas II, however, this is just one more lie which the new order utilized in their campaign to discredit the reforms of Russia’s last Tsar. And to this day, Nicholas II’s detractors continue to claim that the Russian people “suffered” and that the Tsar did “nothing” to help them.

During the reign of Nicholas II, the population of the Russian Empire increased from 122 million in 1894 to 182 million in 1914 – an increase of 62 million! Given such a staggering increase in the country’s population, Nicholas II’s health care reforms were nothing short of impressive.

After Nicholas II ascended the throne in 1894, healthcare reform in the Russian Empire became the subject of special concern for the new Emperor. It was during his reign that the development of medicine and healthcare accelerated throughout the Russian Empire.

On 11th January 1897, Nicholas II approved a Special Commission on measures to prevent and combat plague, chaired by Duke Alexander Frederick Constantin of Oldenburg [1] whom the Tsar allowed to use the premises of the Emperor Alexander I Fort at Kronstadt for experimental anti-plague purposes. In October 1897, Oldenburg traveled to Turkestan to take emergency measures to prevent the plague from entering the Empire, for which he received “His Imperial Majesty’s deepest gratitude for the labours incurred” for his efforts to spare European Russia and the rest of Europe from plague penetrating their borders.

PHOTO: preparation of anti-bacterial plague drugs in the Plague Control Laboratory of the Emperor Alexander I Fort at Kronstadt

One of the main reasons for the spread of disease, was of course poor sanitation. As a result, in August 1908, Nicholas II advised the Minister of Internal Affairs to pay “serious attention to the dismal state of sanitation in Russia. It is necessary at all costs to achieve its improvement”. The Emperor emphasized the need to be able to “prevent epidemics, not just fight them”. He demanded that the case of streamlining the sanitary-medical organization in Russia be urgently developed and submitted for legislative consideration.

Various commissions were established during Nicholas II’s reign to prevent the occurrence of highly infectious diseases. In March 1912, the Emperor approved the Interdepartmental Commission for the revision of medical and sanitary legislation, writing in the margins of the Journal of the Council of Ministers: “This is to be done at an accelerated pace.” The head of the commission was appointed the chairman of the Medical Council of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, honorary life surgeon academician Georgy Ermolaevich Rein (1854-1942). In the spring of 1912, the commission presented its project for the transformation of the central and local authorities of medical and sanitary affairs. After reviewing it, Nicholas II noted: “Submit to the Council of Ministers. Continue to conduct business at an accelerated rate. “

Nicholas II supported the introduction of a territorial system of medical districts within the Russian Empire, a system not found anywhere else in the world at the time. This system was later adopted by the Bolsheviks, who appropriated its authorship. In the course of the health care reform in the Russian Empire, a three-tier structure of medical assistance to the population was formed: a medical department, a county hospital, and a provincial hospital. Treatment in these health facilities was free of charge.

The opening of new hospitals and medical institutions developed at a rapid pace. The number of hospitals increased from 2,100 in 1890 to 8,110 in 1912 and 8,461 in 1916 +170 psychiatric hospitals. The number of hospital beds increased from 70,614 in 1890 to 227,868 in 1916. The number of doctors also increased from 13,000 in 1890 to 22,772 doctors in 1914 and 29,000 in 1916.

In addition, there were 5,306 medical districts and paramedic points. By 1914 there were 28,500 medical assistants, 14,194 midwives, 4,113 dentists, 13,357 pharmacies. In 1913, 8,600 students studied at 17 medical universities.

In 1901, 49 million people received medical care in Russia, three years later, in 1904 – 57 million, in 1907 – 69 million, in 1910 – 86 million and in 1913 – 98 million. These efforts led to a significant decrease in overall mortality. In the period 1906-1911 there were 29.4 deaths per thousand inhabitants, 26 deaths per thousand in 1911, and 25 per thousand in 1912.

Mortality from smallpox decreased 2.5 times, from typhus decreased 2 times, from acute childhood diseases decreased 1.4 times. In the period from 1891 to 1895 – 587 thousand people died on average from acute infectious diseases, and steadily decreased during the period from 1911 to 1914 to 372 thousand people.

On 19th March 1899, Russia’s first ambulance station was opened in St. Petersburg.

PHOTO: the first ambulance station was opened in St. Petersburg on March 19, 1899

Under Nicholas II, Russian scientific medicine received world recognition, which could not have developed without state support. For the first time, Russian medical scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize: physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1904) and microbiologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (1908). Russian medical science carried out pioneering studies of the structure of the brain, and the origins of such fields of medicine as forensic psychiatry, gynecology and hygiene. At the beginning of the 20th century. more than 150 general and specialized scientific medical journals were published in Russia.

Despite the advancements in health care in the Russian Empire, serious health problems remained. For instance, at the beginning of the 20th century Russia experienced a high mortality rate from common widespread infections: plague, smallpox, cholera, typhoid. It was not until the 1940s and the invention of antibiotics did things improve.

Infant mortality under Nicholas II steadily declined. The downward trend in mortality (both children and adults) began before the revolution. According to statistics, the death rate during the reign of Nicholas II per 1000 people had been steadily decreasing.

PHOTO: Medical examination of children in a children’s clinic, St. Petersburg. 1903

Emperor Nicholas II also made efforts to fight against drunkenness. Both the Tsar and Russian society, considered the situation with drunkenness in Russia depressing. Russian historian and journalist Sergei Sergeiivich Oldenburg (1888-1940) wrote that in 1913, “The Tsar, during his trip to the Russian provinces, saw bright manifestations of gifted creativity and labour; but next to this, with deep sorrow, one saw sad pictures of national weakness, family poverty and abandoned households – the inevitable consequences of a drunken life.”

In 1913, the year marking the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov, Emperor Nicholas II stated that he “came to the firm conviction that the welfare of the treasury should not be made dependent on the ruin of my loyal subjects.”

From 1914, schools of the Ministry of Public Education have been instructed to teach high school students a course in hygiene with the obligatory reporting of information about the dangers of alcohol. In March 1914, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to establish a national day of sobriety on 29th August[2], the day of the Beheading of John the Baptist. This holiday was held annually and collected donations for the fight against drunkenness.

By 1913, there were about 1,800 temperance societies in Russia with a total number of members of more than half a million.

As a result of this important decision of Nicholas II, serious changes took place in the country, affecting both the private life of people and their health, and the economy of Russia. The Emperor noted: “Sobriety is the basis of the well-being of the people.”

On 11th August 1908, Emperor Nicholas II initiated the creation of a unified state health care system. In July 1914, a few days before the outbreak of World War I, a bill to create the Ministry of Health was introduced to the Council of Ministers. On 1st September 1916, the Chairman of the Medical Council of the Russian Empire, Honorary Life Surgeon, Academician Georgy Ermolaevich Rein (1854-1942), who held these duties until 27th February 1917. Thus, Georgy Ermolaevich became the first and last Minister of Health of the Russian Empire.

PHOTO: in 1897, the Women’s Medical Institute (the first medical institute of this kind in Russia) opened in St. Petersburg


[1] Father-in-law of Nicholas II’s younger sister Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960), who was married to his only son Duke Peter Alexandrovich (1868-1924), from August 1901 to October 1916.

[2] A national Day of Sobriety was revived in 21st century Russia, today an unofficial Russian holiday instituted by the Russian Orthodox Church. The date of 11th September (O.S. 29th August) was chosen because on this day Orthodox Christians celebrate the Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. On this day, the faithful are expected to observe a strict fast, which includes abstinence from alcohol.

© Paul Gilbert. 7 August 2021

Putin’s negative assessment of Nicholas II

Putin’s attitude to Nicholas II

During his presidency, Vladimir Putin has spoken negatively about Nicholas II on more than one occasion, describing his role as a ruler “erroneous” and “absurd”. Putin believes that Nicholas II ruled the country incorrectly, made many mistakes, which is why Russia lost the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) and later lead Russia unprepared into the First World War. Putin further believes that during the war, Nicholas II personally made a number of errors of judgment and policy, which forced his highest ranking military officers to seek his removal from the throne by forcing the Tsar to abdicate. The main conspirators were mainly military leaders and self-serving politicians of the Duma.

Vladimir Putin has also publicly referred to Russia’s last tsar as “Bloody Nicholas” on more than one occasion. His negative attitude towards Nicholas II, however, does not reflect his assessment of other Russian monarchs, including the Emperors Peter I, Nicholas I, Alexander II, and Alexander III.

“Nicholas the Bloody”

A video has been circulating on YouTube for some years now, in which Putin is caught on camera making an insult towards Nicholas II. Entering his Kremlin office (probably on the day of his first inauguration on 7th May 2000), Putin responds to these words spoken by one of his aides: “From this roof [Grand Kremlin Palace], Nicholas II looked out over Moscow.”

“Well, he had nothing to do, so he ran across the roofs,” Russia’s new President remarked contemptuously.

During a meeting with members of construction teams in Sochi in the summer of 2011, Putin referred to the Tsar as “Nicholas the Bloody”. This epithet runs counter to both the position of the Russian Orthodox Church, which canonized Nicholas II on 20th August 2000, and with the ideology of the Russian authorities during the past 20 years.

Then, on 4th March 2014, during a press conference in Novo-Ogaryov on the events in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin once again, used the Soviet propaganda epithet “Nicholas the Bloody”. He was responding to a question by a journalist of the Interfax news agency, Putin said the following: “A simple Ukrainian citizen, a Ukrainian man suffered both under Nicholas the Bloody and under [Leonid] Kravchuk …”.

Then again, on 15th March 2014, the day marking the anniversary of the bloody February coup of 1917, in which Emperor Nicholas II  was forcibly removed from the throne, and who accepted a martyr’s crown on 17th July 1918, Putin during a press conference boorishly insulted the popularly revered Tsar-Martyr, referring to him as “Nicholas the Bloody”.

PHOTO: The inauguration of Russian President Vladimir Putin is held in the Andreevsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. The thrones of Emperor Nicholas II, Empresses Alexandra Feodorovna and Maria Feodorovna, can be seen in the background.

Why is Putin negative about Nicholas II?

Vladimir Putin probably has a negative attitude towards Nicholas II, because he grew up in Soviet times, where, in principle, Nicholas II was presented as an unambiguously negative character, who refused to progress and generally failed any undertakings. It was during the Soviet years, that Russia’s last tsar was more often than not, referred to as “Bloody Nicholas” – old habits die hard.

During the Stalin era, documents and photographs which depicted the last tsar were seized and destroyed, as they were deemed as “ideologically harmful”. It was Joseph Stalin who ordered the Romanov archives closed and sealed. They were even off limits to historians, unless for propaganda purposes. Up until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, these private documents and photographs effectively lay untouched.

Russian historian Pyotr Multatuli notes: “Stalin forbade any mentioning of the hideous crime in Ekaterinburg, because he was well aware that it was working against his regime.

“Stalin, too, was building his empire, but it was an empire that did not have anything in common with the Russian Empire. Stalin’s empire did not pursue the interests of the Russian people. What was the nature of the Russian monarchy? There was God, the Tsar as the father of the people, and the people were his children, whom he loved, but whom he could also punish.”

Perhaps the key to unravelling Putin’s negative attitude towards Nicholas II lies in his words, spoken during a press conference on 22nd December 2010, when Putin served as Prime Minister of Russia under President Dmitry Medvedev:

“And, frankly speaking, he was not an important politician. Otherwise, the empire would have survived. Although this is not only his fault.”

Putin believes, that Nicholas II, as an autocrat, bears the main responsibility for what happened during his 22+ year reign, which resulted in the collapse of both the monarchy and the Russian Empire.

Putin is the only top Russian official who speaks out negatively against Nicholas II. The rest of the top officials, for example Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Russia’s former Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, have both only spoken positively about the last Tsar.

PHOTO: President Vladimir Putin posing in front of a portrait of Nicholas II, in the Museum of His Majesty’s Lifeguards Cossack Regiment in Courbevoie, France in 2008.

The Russian clergy evaluate Putin’s epithet

Putin’s criticisms of Nicholas II have offended both Orthodox Christians and monarchists over the years, however, Archpriest Valery Rozhnov of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), issued the following statement dated 7th March 2014:

“Since the words of the president in Russian political culture are often perceived as political truth, the phrase about the “Nicholas the Bloody” can have far-reaching consequences.

“As you know, the epithet was part of Soviet propaganda, which was based on many human lives during the reign of the last Russian emperor. However, after the collapse of the USSR, the rhetoric changed, and Nicholas II began to be presented as a victim of circumstances and a tragic figure. It was only when the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the tsar as a saint, that the authorities began to reassess Nicholas II. President Boris Yeltsin, for example, even participated in the burial of the tsar’s remains in the Peter and Paul Cathedral [17th July 1998].

“Through Putin’s words, Soviet rhetoric once again returned to official discourse. This can have serious consequences both for the Russian Orthodox Church and for Ekaterinburg, where Nicholas II became a figure of meaning. Ekaterinburg as a place of the execution of the royal family and a place of repentance for this crime has become a center of pilgrimage and tourism. There is a monument to the imperial family in the city; a church and a monastery were built in their honour. If Nicholas II is again declared “Bloody” and not saint, then this entire industry may be called into question.

“Whether the phrase dropped by Putin is yet another sign of the return of Soviet propaganda clichés, or is this just his personal opinion, which does not claim any ideological status, the position will become clear in the future. In particular, the rhetoric of Russian officials in relation to Nicholas II and tsarist Russia in general will be of particular interest, especially given the century since the beginning of the First World War.”

PHOTO: In 2016, Putin visited an exhibition dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the artist Valentin Serov, held at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. He was photographed admiring Serov’s iconic portrait of Emperor Nicholas II (1900).

Putin denounces Lenin for murder of Nicholas II

Since Putin’s rise to power, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has proclaimed the last tsar, his wife and children, as saints, which was viewed with fear in a country where the Imperial family are still victims of a century of myths and lies, much of which are based on Bolshevik propaganda. In addition to canonization, the Church also decided to build a grand church on the site where the family was murdered in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918. In 2003, during a visit to the Urals, President Putin visited the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg.

Despite the negative comments made by Putin, he has also made a number of positive gestures regarding Nicholas II, which left many people surprised. During a state visit to France in 2008, Putin visited the Museum of His Majesty’s Lifeguards Cossack Regiment in Courbevoie, where he posed in front of a portrait of the tsar.

On 25th January 2016, while speaking at an inter-regional forum of the All-Russia People’s Front, Vladimir Putin denounced Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, for “brutally executing Russia’s last Tsar along with all his family and servants”. Putin further criticized Lenin, accusing him of placing a “time bomb” under the state, and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government, murdering thousands of priests and innocent civilians.

In the weeks leasing up to the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II, rumours in the Russian media speculated that Putin would attend the Patriarchal Liturgy, to be performed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on the night of 16/17 July 2018. Sadly, this was not to be, instead, he flew to Helsinki, where he met with US president Donald Trump. More than 100,000 people from across Russia and around the world descended on the Ural capital to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

Putin’s presence on the eve of the centenary, would have indeed been an historic event, one which perhaps would further seal post-Soviet Russia’s condemnation of the Bolsheviks for committing regicide, but also shedding the century of myths and lies, which perpetuated during the Soviet years.

Sadly, the 100th anniversary of the Romanovs’ deaths passed with little notice in Russia. The Russian government ignored the anniversary, as it surprisingly did the year before, when Russia marked the 100th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. No prominent state museums or venues hosted events to mark the anniversary. The few exhibitions and other events organized were tellingly modest.

PHOTO: On 17th July 2019, members of the State Duma for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II, and all those killed in the Civil War (1917-1922)

On a more positive note, on 17th July 2019 – Russia’s State Duma for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II and all those killed in the Civil War. (1917-1922)

According to Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, “reconciliation begins when we all understand that this cannot be repeated and this is unacceptable.”

“Today we are making a proposal to honour the memory of the last Russian tsar, to honour the memory of the innocent victims – all those who died in the crucible of the Civil War,” the speaker addressed his colleagues, who after these words, rose from their seats.

It should come as no surprise that members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, did not comply with the moment of silence.

The fact that this is the first time in the history of Russia’s State Duma, that they honoured the memory of Nicholas II is truly unprecedented! The minute of silence was repeated in 2020 and will be repeated each year from hereon.

Also, in 2019, in an unprecedented move, the Russian media reported that President Putin had urged the Russian Orthodox Church to “reach a verdict soon” on the Ekaterinburg Remains.  

PHOTO: portraits of Nicholas II and Vladimir Putin, by the contemporary Georgian artist David Datuna

© Paul Gilbert. 15 March 2021


Dear Reader

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The myth that Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich was Russia’s last Tsar

The question of whether Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich (1878-1918) was the last Emperor of Russia, remains a subject of debate among many historians and monarchists to this day.

A heartbeat from the throne

Mikhail Alexandrovich was the youngest son and fifth child of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, and youngest brother of Emperor Nicholas II.

At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather Alexander II was still the reigning Emperor. Mikhail was fourth-in-line to the throne after his father and elder brothers Nicholas and George. After the assassination of his grandfather in 1881, he became third-in-line and, in 1894, after the death of his father, second-in-line. His brother George died in 1899, leaving Mikhail as heir presumptive. The birth of Nicholas’s son Alexei in 1904 moved Mikhail back to second-in-line.

In 1912, Mikhail shocked Nicholas II by marrying Natalia Sergeyevna Wulfert, a commoner and divorcee. In a series of decrees in December 1912 and January 1913, Nicholas relieved Mikhail of his command, banished him from Russia, froze all his assets in Russia, seized control of his estates and removed him from the Regency.

After the outbreak of World War I, Mikhail returned to Russia, assuming command of a cavalry regiment. When Nicholas abdicated on 15 March [O.S. 2 March] 1917, Mikhail was named as his successor instead of Alexei. Mikhail, however, deferred acceptance of the throne until ratification by an elected assembly. Nicholas was appalled that his brother had “kowtowed to the Constituent Assembly” and called the manifesto “rubbish”.

Mikhail was never confirmed as Emperor and, following the Russian Revolution of 1917, he was imprisoned and subsequently murdered by the Bolsheviks near Perm on 13 June 1918 (aged 39).

Would Mikhail have made a good Tsar?

While many of Nicholas II’s detractors insist that Russia’s last Tsar was unprepared for the throne, his brother Mikhail was even less prepared. Mikhail had no aspirations for the throne, instead he preferred the life a playboy, and his gentle disposition would have made him an easy target for manipulative ministers and generals in helping nurture their own selfish interests.

His letters to his brother the Emperor reveal a rather devious and conniving side of Mikhail. In one such letter dated 7th November 1912, Nicholas writes to his mother:

“What revolts me more than anything else is his reference to poor Alexei’s [the Tsesarevich’s] illness which, he [Mikhail] says, made him speed things up. [Mikhail is referring to his marriage. In the event of Alexei’s death, Mikhail would have become heir to the throne]. And then the disappointment and sorrow it brings to you and all of us and the scandal of it all over Russia mean absolutely nothing to him! At a time, too, when everyone is expecting war, and when the tercentenary of the Romanovs is due in a few months! I am ashamed and deeply grieved.”

Many believe that Mikhail’s ascension to the throne would have ushered in a constitutional monarchy and that this in itself would have preserved the dynasty and saved Russia. Russia, however, was not prepared for a constitutional monarchy, nor would it have preserved the dynasty nor would it have saved Russia. A constitutional monarchy would not have appeased the socialists and revolutionaries, and most certainly driven the radical elements such as the Bolsheviks to extreme measures. It has been argued that Russia should have adopted a European style monarchy. There is little similarity. Holy Russia did not need to adopt a Western style monarchy. For centuries Russia had been led by mystic forces. Monarchy was the social system that fit Russia best.

The legality of Nicholas II’s act of abdication 

Some historians further argue that Nicholas II’s act of abdication on 15 March 1917 (O.S. 2 March) 1917 was invalid for two reasons: one, because it was signed in pencil, violating all the necessary legal and procedural methods and format, and thus had no legal force; and two, because the instrument of abdication was never officially published by the Imperial Senate.

In his scholarly book ‘Russia 1917. The February Revolution,’ historian George Katkov, throws yet another interesting coal into the fire:

“ . . . when the Tsar abdicated, and later on behalf of his son, he was accused of having done so in contravention of the law of succession and with the aim of introducing a legal flaw into the instrument of abdication that would later allow him to declare it invalid.”

If this is true, it was a very clever move on the part of Nicholas II, not realizing the terrible fate which awaited him and his family 15 months later in Ekaterinburg.

One thing, however, is certain—Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich was NOT Russia’s last tsar! Nicholas II remained Emperor and Tsar of Russia until the day of his death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

As God’s Anointed, Nicholas II could not be displaced during his lifetime. Since the will of God was nowhere manifest, neither in the naming of his brother Grand Duke Mikhail to the throne, nor in the Tsar’s signing of the instrument of abdication, his status as Tsar remained inviolate and unassailable.

© Paul Gilbert. 6 November 2020

 * * *


Compiled and Edited by Paul Gilbert




This book explores the milestones in the life of Grand Duke Michael in a series of essays by four distinct authors, and complemented with 50 black and white photographs.

Paperback edition. 136 pages + 50 black & white photographs


The development of the Russian Empire during the reign of Nicholas II

Unlike those who talk about the unpreparedness, weakness and lack of will of Nicholas II, Russian historian Andrei Anatolyevich Borisyuk, is convinced that the Emperor knew what the country needed during the first years of his reign, and brilliantly fulfilled his mission as sovereign.

“He immediately took effective and ingenious steps for the development of the state,” says the historian. – The economy, bolstered by a growing railway system, was rapidly being developed. Metallurgy was being completely rebuilt. The Urals which was considered the main center of metallurgy, was soon outpaced by the Donbass region, where seven metallurgical plants were built under Nicholas II. Nearby were huge coal reserves, located in the Krivoy Rog iron ore basin. While firewood was being used to smelt metal in the Urals, coal was used in the Donbass. Before 1914, metalworking and mechanical engineering were developing at a record pace in the Empire. These rates even exceeded those of Stalin’s five-year plans.

Double-decker trains and aeroplanes

Recently a double-decker train was put into service between Moscow and Bryansk, but the implementation of the new railcars was delayed by a hundred years. Historic photographs prove that already in 1905, modern-looking double-decker cars, produced in Tver, were already running on Russian rails. It is clear that it was impossible to build them without a very high technological level of production.

During the reign of Nicholas II, the Empire began to produce aeroplanes and cars. During the First World War, 6,300 aircraft were built in “backward” Russia. At the same time, the production of submarines and other high-tech products was developing.

The production of cement increased 15 fold, which was necessary for the rapidly gaining momentum in the construction industry. Such an increase was a result of the changes to urban construction and development. For the first time, the construction of seven- and eight-story apartment buildings was underway in Russia. Many of these buildings have survived to this day in Moscow, where they are often mistaken for Stalinist ones, but in reality they were built during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II.

Agriculture was also increasing. In terms of the harvest of wheat and sugar beet, Russia ranked first in the world, in terms of the total volume of grain harvest – the United States ranking second. This growth was not accidental, it was the result of the reforms of Pyotr Stolypin (1882-1911), who served as Prime Minister of Russia, and Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Empire from 1906 to his assassination in 1911. But it is interesting to note that many of these reforms were already in place by the time the brilliant statesman came to head the government. The essence of the reforms resulted in the peasants having the right to personal ownership, giving a person the opportunity to buy and sell land without being constrained by any conditions. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, drove everyone into collective farms, again turning people into disenfranchised slaves.

Huge sums of money were allocated for the creation of experimental agricultural enterprises. Farms, and experimental stations were emerging, and agronomy was developing. It was at this time that the first tractors appeared in villages.

1908: universal education program

The actions and decisions of the Emperor lead to a huge economic recovery. The state began to finance subsidized sectors of the economy, such as the social sector. The standard of living of the population was increasing. Education received tremendous support. In 1908, a universal education program was launched in the Russian Empire. During the reign of Nicholas II, more than 65 thousand schools were built.

“The pre-revolutionary program of universal education was denied in Soviet times,” says Andrei Borisyuk. – “The creation of this system was attributed exclusively to the Soviet Union, but documentary sources provide an unambiguous understanding that the universal education program began during the reign of Nicholas II. I researched the documents of the Ministry of Public Education of the Russian Empire, which are in the Russian State Historical Archives, and they prove that the program created 65 thousand new schools.”

The population was growing at a record pace, while mortality was decreasing. One of the many myths regarding the Russian Empire was that the population was allegedly starving, that every few years there was a terrible famine that claimed the lives of millions of people. Hunger in any case is reflected in the statistics, if there was one. But we know two peaks – the famine of the 1920s and 1930s. There were no such peaks in the Russian Empire; the mortality rate was consistently decreasing due to an increase in living standards. The claim that the revolution saved people from hunger does not stand up to scrutiny. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian Empire was an advanced high-tech country with rapidly developing industrialization and education.

Science was also developing. It was during the reign of Nicholas II, that the scientist Alexander Stepanovich Popov (1859-1906) invented the radio in 1895. In 1911, the world’s first broadcast of television data was carried out in Russia by Boris Lvovich Rosing (1869-1933). 

It is interesting to note that Rosing was one of the many talented pupils of the Russian education system. The Ministry of Public Education, which was established in 1802 by Emperor Alexander I, stated that any citizen of the Russian Empire, regardless of class, could receive an education. Some were able to finish one class of the primary parish school, others – three classes of the district school. There was further opportunity to study in gymnasiums, provincial schools, universities. Primary school education was free.

Another pupil Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945), went on to study the atom, and later said that nuclear energy will soon overshadow the power of the owners of gold, land and capital. The first radium laboratory was created and a radium mine under development.

Also noteworthy is Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) who is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry and astronautics. His works later inspired leading Soviet rocket engineers such as Sergei Korolev and Valentin Glushko and contributed to the success of the Soviet space program. Tsiolkovsky was also one of the many talented pupils of the education system of the Russian Empire.

Choosing between Liberalism and Communism

“The development of Russian civilization evolved over many centuries, reaching amazing heights,” says Andrei Borisyuk. – From the birth of this civilization, we can say that Russia was a country of high values ​​and technology. Here churches and monasteries were being built, but at the same time industrial enterprises were opening, factories being built, radio was created, and advanced technological developments carried out. This is the land of scholars and holy ascetics. Why is this important to us now? In his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order the American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington writes that modern geopolitics is built more along the borders of civilizations than along the geographical borders of countries. That is, civilization is primary for explaining the logic of historical processes. Civilization is a global space built on certain values. An understanding of basic values, that underlie our civilization is literally a matter of national security. What values ​​are at the heart of Russia? On what did the Russian people assert themselves? An appeal to historical Russia shows that these were the traditional values ​​of Faith, Motherland and Family. Relying on them, our country achieved maximum results and victories. Any attempt to deviate from these values resulted in very grave consequences for Russia. This ultimately happened in 1917. During that year the Russian people made a choice between Western European liberalism (February Revolution) and Western communism (October Revolution). The choice of the latter to deviate from the Russian Empire’s historical path of development, ended in failure. By putting pragmatic values ​​first, the economy began to develop more slowly under the Bolsheviks.

Vintage newsreels and old photographs captured many of the Empire’s achievements. The Sormovo machine-building plant, and the Putilovsky plant which produced steam locomotives are just two examples which speak otherwise. Both workshops have survived to this day. And then there are the oil refineries, the power plant in St. Petersburg which is considered a masterpiece of architecture in comparison with the present industrial buildings. It is interesting to note that the same tower cranes used during the construction of the Russian-Baltic Shipyard in 1913, are still in use today. “Backward Russia?”

One photo captured the agricultural equipment of the “joint-stock company of Bryansk factories”, which the then “marketers” brought to an agricultural fair in the Amur region. By 1916, the peasants in the Samara region rejoiced at the arrival of the first tractors which they used to plow the land at their experimental station.

The skylines of both St. Petersburg and Moscow were dotted by the cupolas of beautiful churches and cathedrals. In the village of Pidma, a two-story school was built, which even today stands out with its severity and grace. A post office and a rural store in the Arkhangelsk hinterland more resemble a village palace even today. And the houses in Borodino, near Moscow, are examples of design and style which reflect the beauty of the Russian Empire.

Civilization is life. The Russian Empire in this sense was much more civilized than the modern world, which distorts the concept of the family and imposes destructive ideas. During the reign of Nicholas II, the population of Russia grew by 50 million people. In the pre-revolutionary years, the country’s population increased by 3.6 million people annually. This population growth in itself refutes the assertions of the Bolshevik propaganda that both hunger and want reigned in the Empire. Sadly, of course, diseases were present, and class inequality was still visible, but the fact that the number of inhabitants of Russia was growing also testifies to its prosperity,


Born in Moscow on 15th November 1989, Andrey Anatolyevich Borisyuk is one of a new generation of post-Soviet researcher and historian dedicated to challenging the popular held negative myths and lies about Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

He studied at the Orthodox St. Tikhon University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in Russian history.

He is the author of 2 Russian language books on Nicholas II: История России, которую приказали забыть. Николай II и его время.2018; and Рекорды Империи. Эпоха Николая II. 2020.

© Paul Gilbert. 1 November 2020

Then they repented of slandering the Tsar …

Historians and media sources continue to rehash revolutionary myths and slander about the Emperor Nicholas II. Meanwhile, many former revolutionaries and liberals who slandered the Tsar repented in the years which followed the 1917 Revolution.

With the exception of Fondaminsky, who died at Auschwitz in 1942, the men and women featured in this article – all of whom supported the overthrow of Nicholas II and the monarchy in Russia – died in exile.

Ivan Fedorovich Nazhvin (1874-1940)

Author of numerous novels in which he denounced the monarchical state system

“In the days of my youth, the role of a “conscious personality” and “struggle for the people” was demanded from every young man. At that time, not only representatives of the bourgeoisie, like me – we all know the names of the Ryabushinskys, Tretyakovs, Konovalovs, Savva Morozov, etc. – joined the ranks of these – alas! personalities, but also aristocrats, like Prince. P.A. Kropotkin, Count Leo Tolstoy, princes Shakhovsky, Khilkov, Chertkov, Chicherin, etc….

The red stupor grew by leaps and bounds; while the Russian man demanded for himself “the sky in diamonds”. I also suffered from this social disease. I also wanted the sky in republican and socialist diamonds. Entering public life as a writer, I did not hesitate, of course, that only the “leaders”, can steer Russia’s affairs, and everything that is alien to us is subject to anathema and must be thrown into the historical rubbish heap … The first revolution of 1905 cooled my revolutionary aspirations, and the second in 1917 completely extinguished them forever. But I was still possessed by the “old regime” and I looked upon its leaders with much dislike. To my great regret, Tsar Nicholas II was among them.

When I began to examine Russia’s past for my novels, I became more and more convinced that the Tsar was not at all “stupid or weak-willed”. He was “stupid” only because he did not share our delusions, and we imagined him to be “weak-willed” because he did not possess our main and serious vice – over self-confidence (“we know everything”), but on the contrary, he was infinitely modest. My frequent conversations with L.D. Korsakov, who observed the Tsar’s life at close hand, finally convinced me that we, “social activists”, were impassable mules and that we are responsible for the death of the unfortunate Imperial family, who had been persecuted by all of us.

I dedicated a whole volume to this terrible tragedy. But someday it will be published in our time of troubles! And death does not wait: I am already 65; and therefore, without postponing matters, I consider it my duty of conscience to repent of my gross and cruel social error now: it was not the Tsar who was to blame before us, but we before him, who suffered for us.

We suffered severely for our mistake, but still there is no suffering with which we could completely atone for our criminal frivolity and wash away the blood of our victims, the poor Emperor and his loved ones from our hands and souls.

I very much ask my readers, if they come across in my volumes harsh reviews about the deceased Tsar, Tsarina and their loved ones, to interpret these my sins in the light of this letter to “everyone”: I am guilty of this terrible mistake and am ready to atone for it again and again.”

25th April 1939

(Quoted from: “Sentinel”. 1951. No. 304; “Bulletin of the Temple-Monument”. 1981. No. 241)

Ilya Isidorovich Bunakov-Fondaminsky (1880-1942)

One of the leaders of the terrorist organization of the Socialist Revolutionaries

Moscow statehood rested not on strength and not on subjugation by the power of the people, but on the loyalty and love of the people for the bearer of power. Western republics rest on popular recognition. But no republic in the world has been so unconditionally recognized by its people as the autocratic monarchy. The left-wing parties portrayed tsarist power, as the Bolsheviks are now portrayed. They assured us that “despotism” led Russia to decline. I, an old militant terrorist, say now, after the lapse of time – it was a lie! No power can last for centuries based on fear. Autocracy is not violence, its basis is love for kings. After all, Russia is a state of the East. The monarchy was a theocracy. The Tsar is God’s Anointed One. And there were never any uprisings against the Tsar. Not during the Muscovy period, but also the imperial period – the Tsar was almost God.”

(From the speeches at the meetings of the newspaper “Days”, the society “Green Lamp” and the socialist immigrants in Paris in 1927-1929 – Quoted from: “The Two-Headed Eagle”. 1929. No. 25. S. 1186.)


Let us conclude this collection with the confessions of several prominent “Februaryists” for their anti-monarchist revolution. Their words refute the popular opinion of liberal democrats that the Bolsheviks “distorted the gains of progressive freedom-loving February.”

Sergei Petrovich Melgunov (1879-1956)

Member of the Organizing Committee of the People’s Socialist Party, appointed by the Provisional Government Commissioner for the survey of archives and the development of political affairs

“After everything that has now been published in recent years, the assessment of ​​Nicholas II has to be changed. Undoubtedly, the idea of ​​the completely exclusive political influence of the “Friend” [Rasputin] is also greatly exaggerated. The right-wing public menacingly instilled that tsarist power would be shaken and that Russia, torn apart by party strife, would perish. Alas! so far, this has largely turned out to be right, just as the Narodnoye resident [L.A. Tikhomirov] was right, after he wrote in his diary: “The monarchy is heading towards destruction, and without the monarchy an inevitable slaughter lasting 10 years will follow.”

No element can justify those who, in a revolutionary storm, have undertaken to navigate the state ship. At first, they all, consciously or unconsciously, indulged the elements and fanned the flames of the great bloodless revolution. The disorganized coup, not organized victory.”

(Melgunov S. On the way to the palace coup. Paris. 1931. S. 61-63, 225).

Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov (1861-1925)

First Minister-Chairman of the Provisional Government

Until the very end he [Lvov] blamed himself for everything: “After all, it was I who made the revolution, I killed the tsar and everyone … all because of me” … he said in Paris to his childhood friend Ekaterina Mikhailovna Lopatina-Yeltsova. ”

(Quoted from: Stepun F. The Past and the Unfulfilled. New York. 1956. Vol. II. P. 32).

Pavel Nikolaevich Milyukov (1859-1943)¹

Leader of the Cadet Party, Minister of the First Provisional Government

After his removal from the Provisional Government in the spring of 1917, he said in an address to his associates:

“In response to your questions, how I look at the revolution we have accomplished, I want to say that what happened, we certainly did not want. We believed that power would be concentrated and remain in the hands of the first cabinet, that we would stop the enormous devastation in the army quickly, if not with our own hands, then with the hands of the allies, we would achieve victory over Germany, we would pay for the overthrow of the tsar with only some delay in this victory. We must confess that some, even from our own party, pointed out to us the possibility of what happened next. Of course, we must acknowledge that the moral responsibility lies with us.

You know that we made a firm decision to use the war to carry out a coup soon after the start of the war, you also know that our army had to go on the offensive, the results of which would fundamentally stop all hints of discontent and cause an explosion of patriotism in the country and jubilation. You understand now why I hesitated at the last minute to give my consent to the coup, you also understand what my inner state should be like at the present time. History will curse the leaders of the so-called proletarians, but it will also curse us, who caused the storm.

What to do now, you ask. I don’t know, that is, inside we all know that the salvation of Russia lies in the return of the monarchy, we know that all the events of the last two months clearly prove that the people were not able to accept freedom, that the mass of the population, not participating in rallies and congresses, were disposed to the monarchy, and that many, many who voted for a republic did so out of fear. All this is clear, but we cannot admit it. Recognition is the collapse of the whole business, our whole life, the collapse of the entire worldview, of which we are representatives.”

(Quoted from: PN Milyukov’s letter of repentance // Russian Resurrection. Paris. 1955. April 17, p. 3).

Fyodor Avgustovich Stepun (1884-1965)

After the February Revolution, he was the head of the Political Directorate of the War Ministry

In his later memoirs, he describes how he, along with other revolutionaries, was placed in the rooms of the Grand Palace: “My soul was vague and unwell: I was ashamed being in the royal chambers, as if I had robbed someone and did not know how to hide stolen goods in order to forget about the theft … ” Whose fault before Russia is harder – ours, the people of “February”, or the Bolshevik – a difficult question … “.

(Stepun F. The Past and the Unfulfilled. New York. 1956. T. II. S. 154, 7).

Ariadna Vladimirovna Tyrkova-Williams (1869-1962)

One of the organizers of the Cadet Party, participant in the February Revolution

“When the crown fell, many noticed with amazement that it ended, the central vault of Russian statehood was supported on it. The cadets were unable to fill the devastation.”

(Quoted from: “Grani”. 1980. No. 130. P. 118).

Click HERE to read my article The myth that Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference by the Russian people, published on 19th June 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 24 September 2020

¹ On 1st November 1 1916, liberal politician and the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party (known as the Kadets) in the Russian Provisional Government, Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov delivered the famous speech in the State Duma, which, according to many historians, launched the dramatic process of the revolutionary demolition of the government in force at that time.

The myth of Nicholas II’s indifference to the Khodynka tragedy


More than a century after his death and martyrdom, a number of tragic events continue to haunt the legacy of Russia’s last tsar. It was the Khodynka tragedy, in which thousands were killed or injured during a stampede, that would haunt Nicholas II throughout his 22-year reign.

On the morning of 31st May [O.S. 18th May] 1896, over half a million revelers had gathered on the Khodynka Field in Moscow for ceremonies marking the Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II.

Organizers had set up 150 stalls to distribute 400 thousand free gifts to the people, a souvenir of the historic event.

The gift included a commemorative enamelled metal cup, bearing the cyphers of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna 1896 and the Imperial Crown on one side, the Imperial coat of arms on the reverse.

The cup was distributed along with a variety of food presents, which included a 400 gram loaf of bread; 200 gram sausage stick; Vyazemsky gingerbread; a small bag full of sweets, nuts, and dried fruits.

Everything was tied in a bright calico commemorative scarf, on which the portraits of the imperial couple were printed on one side, and a view of the Kremlin on the reverse.

Sadly, the day began in tragedy. Rumours began to spread among the people that there was not enough beer or pretzels for everybody, and that the enamel cups contained a gold coin. A police force of 1,800 men failed to maintain civil order, and a catastrophic crowd crush and panic resulted in an estimated 1,389 people being trampled to death, and an additional 1300 injured, in what has become known as the Khodynka Tragedy.

Despite the tragedy, the program of festivities continued as planned elsewhere on the Khodynka field, with many people unaware of the tragedy that had taken place. The Emperor and Empress made a brief appearance in front of the crowds on the balcony of the Tsar’s Pavilion in the middle of the field around 2 p.m. By that time the traces of the incident had been cleaned up. The couple were clearly shaken by the news.


The Emperor and Empress on the balcony of the Tsar’s Pavilion in the middle of the Khodynka Field

It was the Emperor’s attendance at a grand ball held on the evening of the tragedy, however, which planted a seed of gross misunderstanding and ridicule, one which Nicholas is criticized to this very day. I would like to take a closer look at this . . . 

The ball was hosted by the French ambassador Gustave Lannes de Montebello (1838-1907), in Moscow. The French spared no expense in the extravagant preparations for the ball. The ball in part marked the recently signed Franco-Russian alliance.

For the arrival of Their Majesties, foreign princes, princesses, members of the Imperial Family, representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps, court officials gathered in the halls of the embassy. For hours this mass paraded through the halls. The excitement was everywhere. Their Majesties were greeted by the French ambassador and his wife at the entrance and remained at the embassy until 2 am.

The tsars’ sister Grand Duchess Olga Alexandra wrote: “The French government had gone to immense expense and trouble to arrange the ball. Tapestries and plate were brought from Versailles and Fontainebleau and 100,000 roses from the south of France.

“Other guests shared their descriptions: “some of the rooms had been converted into winter gardens” . . . “in one room a fountain lit up with colourful electric lights”. 

The grand ball at the French ambassador’s party ended with a fine dinner. During the ball, the ladies were offered luxurious fans and bouquets of flowers brought from France. In general, the ball was wonderful; full of animation, luxury, extraordinary brilliance, it left an indelible impression on many.

During the ball, an orchestra played and a choir of Russian singers in luxurious Russian costumes sang. The wide hospitality of the French embassy was extended to all guests.

An open buffet, champagne, fine French wines, a magnificent dinner, flowers for guests – everything was there. The tables in the Tsar’s rooms especially stood out – among the luxurious silver there were literally mountains of fragrant flowers.


Nicholas and Alexandra are greeted by the French ambassador and his wife

It was clear that the newly crowned Emperor and Empress did not want to attend the ball. Some historians believe that Nicholas was bullied by his uncles, urging him to attend. Because of the extravagant preparation for the ball, caused in part by France’s delight at the recently signed alliance with Russia, the failure of Nicholas and Alexandra to attend would have been a great slight.

According to the Countess Maria Eduardovna Kleinmichel (1846-1931), “in view of the terrible expense, the French ambassador begged the Imperial couple to attend, He urged the Emperor to agree to at least attending the reception, even if for a short while. The Tsar looked all haggard and pale as a white sheet. The Imperial couple walked in silence through the halls, bowing to those who had assembled. Then they went into the ambassador’s drawing-room, and shortly thereafter departed. The French were in despair, but they seem to have realized that their demands after such a tragedy, one which shook the Emperor and Empresses so deeply, were simply impossible.” 

Grand Duchess Olga Alexandra also noted: “I know for a fact that neither of them wanted to go. It was done under great pressure from his advisers . . . Nicky’s ministers insisted that he must go as a gesture of friendship to France.”

Count Sergei Witte, who served as Prime Minister under Nicholas II recalled that Nicholas “looked sick” and was “obviously depressed”.

“I know that both Nicky and Alicky spent the whole of that day in visiting one hospital after another,” wrote Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna.

Nicholas allotted some 90 thousand rubles to the victims families out of his own personal funds, and not the states. He ordered that a thousand bottles of port and Madeira were to be sent to hospitals for the wounded, and the sovereign himself visited the wounded in the hospitals and attended the funeral service for the dead. Further, all orphans received a pension until they were of age.

In their book A Life for the Tsar, co-authors Greg King and Janet Ashton wrote: “They [Nicholas and Alexandra} visited the wounded in Moscow’s hospitals, and Nicholas announced that he would compensate the victims . . . yet the visits were mechanical and the pledge of financial aid went largely unfulfilled.” What is interesting to note is that their 189-page book, contains no less than 1,349 citations, yet there is no citation for their claim that Nicholas reneged on his promise to compensate victims. This in itself suggests that such a claim is based on rumour and not fact.

The Emperor’s kindness and empathy towards the victims and their families has been widely documented by numerous historians, both Western and Russian. The claim by King and Ashton that the “pledge of financial aid went largely unfulfilled”, simply goes against the personal character and deeply pious Orthodox beliefs of Nicholas II.

When asked if Nicholas II showed indifference to the victims of the Khodynka tragedy, Professor M.V. Lomonosov, who serves as associate professor of the history faculty of Moscow State University said:

“Here it is necessary to clearly separate the two matters. On one hand we have a situation related to human relationships, issues of empathy, compassion and mercy. On the other hand, there are issues of diplomacy and diplomatic protocol. And in this situation, they overlap one another.

“There was an official reception with the French ambassador, and it was necessary to demonstrate good relations with France. It was quite obvious that if Nicholas II for any reason ignored this event, then it would have a negative impact on Russian-French relations. As you know, his attendance at the ball was purely official.

“The  reception was not an entertainment event as such. It was political. There are things which need to be done, despite the fact that a tragic event overshadowed it.

“By attending, Nicholas II fulfilled his duties and Russia received a certain European political resonance.”


Emperor Nicholas II at the bedside of a victim injured during the Khodynka tragedy

That evening Nicholas briefly noted the event in his diary: “Up until now, thank God, everything went perfectly. The crowd spending the night on the Khodynka meadow, in anticipation in the distribution of the food and mugs, broke through the barrier and there was a terrible crush, during which it is terrible to say about 1300 people trampled!!”

His lack of emotion or empathy in this entry for the victims does not reflect his private feelings. His detractors often cite this in their negative assessment of his reign. [for more on Nicholas II’s diaries, please refer to my article Nicholas II’s Diaries 1894-1918.]

Whatever the Emperor’s private feelings, the Khodynka tragedy created a number of negative images and impressions which would colour all later views of Nicholas, his government and his reign. The first such image was that of a young monarch dancing at a fabulous ball on the evening of a day when hundreds of his subjects had lost their lives as a result of the incompetence of his own government.

“The image was unfair,” notes Russian historian Dominic Lieven. Not for the last time, however, the Emperor’s self-control exposed him in temperamental Russian eyes to accusations of heartlessness and indifference.

Sadly, Nicholas and his government never erased the image which Khodynka implanted in the public mind.


Dear Reader: I am always pleased to present new articles based on my own research from Russian archival sources, and first English translations of new articles from Russian media sources on my Nicholas II blog and Facebook pages. It is these articles and topics which seldom (if ever) attract the attention of the Western media. I personally translate the articles, and complement them further with additional materials, photographs, videos and links.

If you found this article interesting, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Thank you for your consideration – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 23 August 2020

Russia’s national educational project of Emperor Nicholas II


The educational accomplishments during the reign of Russia’s last tsar were nothing short of impressive. It was during the years 1894-1917, that illiteracy rapidly declined. In 1914, 40 per cent of the population was literate. The institutions of higher learning were turning out considerable numbers of loyal bureaucrats, skilled professionals and eminent scholars. To this extent, educational reform had been highly effective under Nicholas II.

NOTE: this 2-part article has been researched exclusively from Russian sources, translated, and presented in English for the first time – PG

The reign of Nicholas II was a period of unprecedented growth for Russia in all areas from economy to culture. It is foolish to deny this growth, especially since in the USSR this growth was recognized and even in 1913 was considered the standard of development with which the Soviets compared their own achievements. This unprecedented growth in Tsarist Russia was obvious to both contemporaries and people of the Soviet period.

The Romanov emperors – from Alexander I to Alexander III – wasted much of the 19th century, missing opportunities for the evolutionary modernization of Russian society. As a result, Russia’s last emperor Nicholas II inherited a rotten feudal medieval state with an illiterate peasant indigenous population, degenerate nobility, frontier townspeople and even more backward rural and remote areas, where the population lived well even in feudal order.


Nicholas II identified his personal desires and dreams with those of the Russian people. The era demanded drastic reforms and the destruction of the rotten past of the empire and its modernization.

Let’s look at the problem of education, which under Nicholas II achieved unprecedented success. His detractors claim that everything during the reign of Russia’s last emperor was bad, particularly education. Let’s see what the statistics say . . .

According to statistics published in the popular «Справочник патриота (Руксперт)» [Handbook of the Patriot (Rukspert)], the number of literate and educated people grew significantly under Nicholas II:

– There were 78 thousand elementary schools in 1896, and 119.4 thousand in 1914
– The number of elementary school students in 1896 was 3.8 million, in 1914 – 9.7 million.
– The number of gymnasiums (secondary schools), was 239 in 1892, and 2300 in 1914.
– The number of secondary school students in 1890 was 12.5 thousand, in 1914 – 127 thousand.
– The number of teachers in 1896 was 114 thousand, in 1914 – 280 thousand.
– Thanks to these measures adopted by the tsarist government, the number of literate people in the country steadily increased. In 1894 there were 37.8% of literate conscripts [enlist (someone) compulsorily, typically into the armed services], in 1901 – 50%, in 1913 – 67.8%. 


Regardless of the denial by the Bolsheviks and later the Soviets, the Russian Empire experienced a quantitative increase in literate people under Nicholas II. This in itself is also confirmed by the increase in the number of books published in Russia:

According to В. Кожинов «Россия, век ХХ. 1901-1939». [V. Kozhinov Russia, XX Century. 1901-1939], in 1893, 7783 titles were published in Russia (with a circulation of 27.2 million copies), and in 1913 – 34,006 titles were published (with a circulation of 133 million copies).

In order to correctly compare these numbers with those of other nations: in 1913 almost as many titles were published in Russia in the same year as England (12,379), USA (12,230) and France (10,758). Germany alone competed with Russia in this respect (35,078 titles in 1913), but, having the most developed printing base, German publishers executed numerous orders from other countries and, in particular, Russia itself, although these titles (more than 10,000) were taken into account as a German product.

According to the “Patriot Handbook”: “In 1893, a total of 43 million rubles were allocated for education, which amounted to 4.1% from the State budget, and in 1914 – approximately 270 million rubles, which amounted to 8% of all budget expenditures.”

In 1914 there were 91 universities with 112 thousand students in the Empire, and 295 technical schools, where 36 thousand students studied.

In 1913 the Empire had 13.9 thousand libraries, with a total of 9.4 million books.

The situation in education under the reign of Nicholas II can be best described as successful. Historians can now only speculate what further advances Russia could have made had the First World War, and revolutionary activity in 1917 forced Nicholas II from the throne and the Russian Empire to collapse. 



On 16 May 1908, the Russian Empire passed a law on compulsory primary education to be phased in over a period of 10 years.

The beginning of the twentieth century was one of the most dramatic and turbulent periods in Russia’s history. The revitalization of the revolutionary movement, driven underground, together with a heavy war in the Far East, undermined internal stability in the country. The Revolution of 1905-1907 determined its own path of development for the country – the path to the collapse of the established centuries-old state system, which would plunge the country into an abyss of general chaos. The supreme power, having suppressed revolutionary speeches, proposed an alternative – the path of the quiet development of the empire through progressive reforms. 

It was for this purpose that Emperor Nicholas II put at the head of the government Pyotr Stolypin (1862-1911), discerning in him a talented, energetic reformer. The joint work of the emperor and the prime minister over five years made it possible to work out a series of government reforms. It is interesting to note that despite Liberal opposition, which, during the years of the revolution, repeatedly called for the need for reform, however, could not offer any concrete ideas to such. Moreover, even in the Duma, they were pushed into a corner, believing that they had no choice but to publish angry attacks in the press against the supreme power. The period from 1907 to 1914 was marked by stormy legislative activity. The State Duma, at last, became an efficient body, and not a hotbed of frantic revolutionaries. Unfortunately, many initiatives made by the authorities were not brought to fruition, due to the outbreak of the First World War.

One of the most important changes was the reform in primary education. Western society still held a long-standing stereotype that the population in the Russian Empire was practically illiterate, and the government spent insignificant amounts on education. Universal primary education is generally presented as the achievement of the Soviet government, however, this is incorrect.

In order for the empire to develop evenly in all regions, skilled personnel were required. With the direct participation of Emperor Nicholas II, a number of new laws on the development of public education were introduced. One of them was the law of 3 (16) May 1908 on the introduction of universal primary education in Russia.


The Law of 3rd May 1908, signed by Nicholas II, also provided for additional financing (credit) of 6.9 million rubles for the needs of primary education, which contributed greatly to its accelerated development. At the same time, according to the decree of 3rd May 1908, education in all schools, to which additional state funding was extended (including in rural schools), was free. Nearly 10,000 schools were opened annually, and by 1913 their total number exceeded 130,000 [including parish schools]. Although the discussion of the bill in the Duma was delayed for three years, and amended several times, universal primary education in the Russian Empire became a fait accompli.

Throughout the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, the supreme power contributed to the planned development of primary education. Of course, the results were not long in coming. We give the most popular indicator – the literacy rate, which critics of the imperial power so willingly operate on. Yes, in 1897 the literacy rate was quite low – 21.1%. However, by 1917, this figure is estimated at around 40-43%. By simple calculations we come to the conclusion that the growth of the literacy level in the empire was slightly more than 2% per year.

Thus, a fairly fair conclusion can be made: universal primary education, the creation of which in Russia is still considered by the overwhelming majority of citizens to be an achievement of Soviet power, dates back to the 1890s. In the last ten years of the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, a “national project” was carried out – an extensive network of schools was created, access to which was provided to all children of the empire. Such measures were quite consistent with the global trends in the development of primary education.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 July 2020

Recommended Reading

Education and the State in Tsarist Russia, by Patrick L. Appleton. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1969.

Please help support my research by making a donation to my project The Truth About Nicholas II

Unknown writer defends Nicholas II against Western myths and lies

On 1st July 2020, I received a very interesting eleven-page letter from H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun – a person who up until yesterday I had never heard of. His open letter is addressed to Romanov historian and author Helen Rappaport and copied to the St. Martin’s Press, New York; Paul Gilbert, Editor Of The Journal Sovereign & Nicholas II Blog; Russian Historian, Dr. Peter Valentinovich Multatuli, Ph.D., who is considered as the country’s Leading Authority on the Life and Reign of Nicholas II; the Curator of the Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg; the Club Of Historians; and Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation among others.

I have known Helen Rappaport for many years, together we have shared a vast correspondence on all things “Romanov,” a subject of which we have seldom seen eye to eye on, particularly the reign of Nicholas II. Over the years I have sat back quietly as Dr. Rappaport has published books and articles, or appeared as a guest on televised interviews and documentaries in which she fervently clings to the popular held negative assessment of Russia’s last Tsar. I remain critical of much of her research, citing it as “stuck in the 1970s,” and one of the reasons why she was not invited as a speaker to the Nicholas II Conference which I organized and hosted in England in 2018. 

It is very important for me to emphasize that just because I disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s research does not mean that I hate her, not in the least! Having said that, however, I must also emphasize that as an independent researcher on the life, reign and era of Nicholas II, I have every right to challenge and dispute her research. As Dr. Rappaport recently noted on her Facebook page, she refers to any one who disagrees with her negative assessment of Nicholas II, as someone who views him with “rose coloured glasses” or “hagiographic“.

It is so refreshing to know that persons such as H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun support me in my mission, and not afraid to voice their own critical assessment of Western historians such as Helen Rappaport. I am sorry if reprinting this letter offends or hurts her in any way, but I cannot emphasize strongly enough that Dr. Rappaport is not being targeted, but she, like all of her Western contemporaries who continue to promote their anti-Nicholas propaganda are ON NOTICE! 

During my closing words at the 1st International Nicholas II Conference held in Clochester, England on 27th October 2018, I noted that I would be dedicating my time and resources to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered tsar Nicholas II.

I am today leading an IMPERIAL MOVEMENT, a voice for the truth about Russia’s last Tsar, one which also acknowledges his reforms and many achievements. My supporters include Orthodox Christians, monarchists, historians, and other adherents of His Imperial Majesty Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II and Tsar-Martyr – PG 


Here is the text of H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun’s eleven-page letter, with several minor edits. Some of his text is repeated, however, I have left it unedited:

Helen Rappaport
Key Contributor – Historical Consultant
Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian
Romanov Expert

Attention: Ms. Helen Rappaport

Subject: Tsar Nicolas II And Family

Greetings Ms. Rappaport,

Judging from your Contact Information, you are calling yourself a Historian/Russianist, Key Contributor, Historical Consultant, Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian and Romanov Expert. You also welcome hearing from readers with their queries about your work. My Colleagues and I seriously question your alleged wide ranging experience in public speaking, seminars and literary festivals and as a Historian/Russianist can offer talks on a variety of subjects. We are also questioning your alleged credentials as a Historian/Russianist, Key Contributor, Historical Consultant, Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian and Romanov Expert. We have more than sufficient cogent evidence that will prove otherwise. I have been very preoccupied in the past and it’s only now that I am able to address this matter.

On July 17, 2018, your article appeared in TIME Magazine entitled, “The Romanov Family Died A Century Ago – It’s Time To Lay The Myths About Them To Rest”, By Helen Rappaport. You state in your article, for a century the Romanov story has exercised a seductive power that has never ceased to fascinate. Now, with 100 years passed, the centenary offers an opportunity for that fascination to be refocused on the facts of what really happened to the last Tsar and his Family. We understand that you are the author of four (4) back-to-back books written about the Romanovs, the latest being “The Race To Save The Romanovs”, Published In The U.S.A. by St. Martin’s Press.

Before I continue, I will bring to table another matter involving your alleged knowledge about Tsar Nicolas II and Family. In an article written by Paul Gilbert on February 25, 2020, (see his credentials enclosed), he writes, “The era of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1894-1917) remains one of the most prominent in the history and development of Russia. Rapid economic development, the strengthening of the state’s defense, peace loving external initiatives, outstanding scientific discoveries, the successes of public education, advanced social policy for this period were all achieved in a short historical period. Thanks to the policies and reforms of Tsar Nicholas II, sophisticated state administration and the talents of statesmen, helped shape the necessary union which produced such brilliant results. Topics found in the new Russian Web Site include: Monetary, Agrarian, Military Reforms, Industrialization, Energy, Public Health, Scientific Breakthroughs, Russian Geographical Society, Constitutional State, Foreign And Domestic Trade, Religious And Church Life, Mail, Telegraph And Postal Services, Charity And Patronage, The Birth Of Russian Aviation, Foreign Policy and much more. Please note that this Russian/English Language Web Site is still under development and once complete, will also feature articles, news and videos.” On a personal note, I would like to add that this new Russian Web Site is of great importance. It allows us to reexamine what we have been led to believe is the truth on the era of Tsar Nicholas II. This can be achieved from the many books and documentaries produced over the past fifty years.

Many have been written by people who have failed to examine all the facts, especially those from Russian Sources. As an example, during a BBC Radio Program “Beyond Belief”, held on 20th August 2018, the programs’ host Ernie Rea was joined by four guests to discuss Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar. Among them was Andrew Phillips, Arch Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) and Rector of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Church in Colchester, England, who stated during the program that “Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar”. Fellow Panelist and Romanov Historian, Helen Rappaport did not comment on Father Andrew’s statement, however, she wasted little time in taking to Social Media to rebuke him. “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”, she argued during a discussion on Facebook with her “Romanov Circuit”. I also believe that Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar, the information presented in this new Russian Web Site providing the facts. Therefore, I respectfully disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s comments and her rebuke of Father Andrew’s comment alone raises a red flag. I have argued for years that researchers need access to new documents discovered in post Soviet archives in Russia. Perhaps this would help put an end to the obsessive rehashing by Western Historians of the tragedies which befell Nicholas II during his reign. It is time to begin focusing on his reforms and achievements.

Ms. Rappaport, Paul Gilbert is being much too kind in respectfully disagreeing with your comments when you state that, “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”. Paul Gilbert further states that your rebuke of Father Andrew’s comment alone raises a red flag. That’s it, that’s all the criticism you get, for “Big Time Foul-Ups”? Further to your July 17, 2018 article in TIME Magazine entitled, “The Romanov Family Died A Century Ago – It’s Time To Lay The Myths About Them To Rest”. This vindictive statement is very damaging. You state in your article, for a century the Romanov story has exercised a seductive power that has never ceased to fascinate. Now, with 100 years passed, the centenary offers an opportunity for that fascination to be refocused on the facts of what really happened to the last Tsar and his Family. As an alleged Expert on the Romanov Dynasty, you must have known what has been said about Tsar Nicolas II through the media and related publications. They depict Tsar Nicolas II as a weak incompetent ruler, making him out to be an unimaginative and limited man, he was suited neither by his abilities, nor temperament to rule during such turbulent times. He was chronically indecisive and not a progressive overlord, he firmly believed in his divine right to rule. As a Leader, Tsar Nicholas II knew few successes. When World War I came in 1914, Nicholas allegedly led his people into a conflict that would strain the nation’s resources and unfortunately cost many lives.

As a result of his reign, he was responsible for a series of events which led to the downfall of the Monarchy and Russian Empire. Imperial Splendor Nicholas was, however, a family man, he loved his wife, Alexandra and she loved him. His brutal execution, nor to that of his family members were unwarranted. Soon after his and his family’s deaths, all Personal Belongings, Palaces and Lands belonging to Tsar Nicolas II and Family were seized by Vladimir Lenin and Associates. The Decree on Land ratified the actions of the peasants who throughout Russia seized private land and redistributed it among themselves. The Bolsheviks viewed themselves as representing an alliance of workers and peasants and memorialized that understanding with the hammer and sickle on the flag and coat of arms of the Soviet Union. Other decrees:

– All private property was seized by the state
– All Russian Banks were nationalized
– Private Bank Accounts were confiscated
– The Church’s Properties (including Bank Accounts) were seized
– All Foreign Debts were unacknowledged
– Control of the factories was given to the Soviets

So what you are saying now Ms. Rappaport, is that the myths being that Tsar Nicolas II as a weak incompetent ruler, make him out to be an unimaginative and limited man, he was suited neither by his abilities, nor temperament to rule during such turbulent times. He was chronically indecisive and not a progressive overlord, he firmly believed in his divine right to rule. As a Leader, Tsar Nicholas II knew few successes. When World War I came in 1914, Nicholas allegedly led his people into a conflict that would strain the nation’s resources and unfortunately cost many lives. So just let “Sleeping Dogs Lie” and “Close The Book On Tsar Nicolas II” Ms. Rappaport, is that not correct? The following are some excerpts of new documents, letters and diaries discovered in Russian Archives since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.


Russia’s Last Emperor And Tsar Nicolas II Is One Of The Most Documented Monarchs In Modern History Who Have Endured To This Very Day

Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar Nicolas II is one of the most documented Monarchs in modern history who have endured to this very day. Contemporary Western Historians have been content to carry these negative myths and lies turning them into books, magazine articles and documentaries. They depict him as a weak incompetent ruler, who was responsible for a series of events which led to the downfall of the Monarchy and Russian Empire. New documents, letters and diaries discovered in Russian Archives since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 have aided a new generation of Russian Historians to address many of the myths and lies about Nicolas which challenge and dismiss those held by their Western counterparts. I am committed to clearing the name of Russia’s most slandered Emperor and Tsar. I am able to achieve this through much research and work. My research and work is followed by many people around the world, from all walks of life including Orthodox Christians, Monarchists and those who hold the Tsar-Martyr and his family close to their hearts. These are people who seek the truth. For nearly a century, the last Emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, has been maligned and slandered by Western Historians and Biographers. I often wonder, how have these historians and authors been mistaken about Tsar Nicholas II. Come to think of it, no one can prevent historical figures from being criticized, but one must distinguish objective criticism from slander and defamation. Both positive and negative assessments must be supported by evidence that emerges from the careful study and analysis of historical sources. We are all judged by the fruits of our actions.

Russia in the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II grew in population by 150% and its rate of economic growth was the highest in the entire world. Labour Laws in Russia were among the most progressive anywhere, which was acknowledged even by President Taft of the United States. The Great Russian Academic Dmitrii Mendeleev, the French Economist Edmond Teri and other researchers have written about the strength and development of Russia in these years and have shown that Nicholas II actually achieved a lot for his country during his reign. Some might say that because the reign of Nicholas II ended in Revolution, any accomplishments he may have had lose their value and meaning. But that’s not the right way to look at it. Emperor Nicholas II, like any human being or statesman, was not without sin and certainly did make mistakes. But he was a man of deep faith, a great patriot, an honourable, genuine and humane man, who with courage and integrity bore all the hardships that fate had delivered to him, both during his reign and afterward. In canonizing him as a Passion Bearer, the Holy Church affirmed that Emperor Nicholas II was one of the principal moral guides of our people. And I believe that this decision by the Hierarchy of the Church resonates in the hearts of my countrymen. Thus, while I certainly do not deny the right of historians to debate the correctness or mistakes on this or that decision made by Emperor Nicholas II, I cannot condone those who try to blacken his memory, or depict him as a dull and shallow minded man who cared only about his family. There is simply no substantiation in the historical sources for that view of him.


The Rehabilitation Of The Tsar-Martyr Emperor Nicholas II By The Supreme Court Of The Russian Federation Is So Important For A Proper Understanding Of Russian History

Some misunderstand the meaning of the word “rehabilitation”, thinking that it connotes a kind of “amnesty”. In point of fact, however, the rehabilitation of the victims of political repression is a recognition that such people were the targets of illegal action perpetrated in the name of the government and that these actions be deemed formally by the government today as illegal and the victims be recognized as having being entirely innocent and have their honour, integrity and good name fully and legally restored to them. For the Russian Government today, the rehabilitation of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II, His Family, other murdered members of our House and their faithful physician and attendants, has an enormous legal and moral significance. The Russian Federation is the legal successor of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the RSFSR and of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the USSR. A local governmental organ, which exercised full political authority at that time the Ural Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies passed a death sentence on the Emperor, His Family and their servants. The Supreme Governmental Organs of Soviet Russia, the All Russian Central Executive Committee and the Soviet of People’s Commissars recognized this decision as correct and approved it.

Until 2008, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation had not ruled on my family’s petition for the rehabilitation of the Royal Martyrs and so from a legal point of view the executions continued to be considered lawful and justified. Neither the canonization of the Royal Family by the Church nor the statements from various leaders of the country condemning the murders carried any legal weight. So we had a situation where the Church and the faithful considered Nicholas II and His Family Saints, many others of our countrymen considered them, if not Saints, at least as innocent victims of terror and the government. It saw them as criminals deserving of death. Of course, that was an absurd and unsustainable situation and a bloody burden from which the government needed to free itself. Thank God, the highest Court in the land concurred with the arguments my family presented and finally made the correct and legal ruling on the matter. I would especially like to acknowledge and thank the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev, for his part in reaching this ruling. He delved deeply into the matter and put an end to this on going violation of the law. Before the ruling came down on October 1, 2008, rehabilitating the murdered members of the Imperial Family, we did not know him at all or what he thought about our legal arguments, or about us in general.

But he researched the question on his own and agreed with our petition on its merits, issuing his ruling “On The Rehabilitation Of The Victims Of Political Repression” entirely on the basis of the historical facts alone. This ruling on the rehabilitation of the Imperial Family, their relatives and faithful servants, all murdered by the atheistic and totalitarian Communist Regime, is perhaps one of the best pieces of evidence that Russia has undergone a colossal positive change in its understanding of the country’s past and has made important strides forward in the defense of human rights today. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been a growing interest in the Romanov Dynasty and their legacy in modern day Russia. Since that time, we have worked tirelessly to restore the name and the image of the Romanov Dynasty. It is so important for new generations of Russians to understand the contributions that the House of Romanov made to Russia’s History and Culture.

It is important not only to remember the contributions that our Dynasty has made, but also to know the history of our country, to glean lessons from its past, to offer an accurate moral evaluation both of the good that happened and the bad, to try to avoid the mistakes of the past and to use that past to chart a course for the nation moving forward. So, when I talk about my ancestors, it is not only to praise them. I do not idealize this history of the rule of our House. To the contrary, I always say that while there is much to be proud of in our past, there is also much to regret and so I do ask for forgiveness of the Creator and of my people on my own behalf and on behalf of previous generations of the Dynasty. None of my countrymen are my enemies. Whether it be those who vehemently disagree with me, or those who are on the other side of an ideological divide, or acid critics of everything I hold most dear all are my brothers and sisters. I stand ready at all times to meet and discuss the past, present and future with people of all views in order to find a way to work together to serve Russia.


All Around Me I See Treason Cowardice And Deceit

“All Around Me I See Treason, Cowardice And Deceit”, are not only the words Emperor Nicholas II used to reproach his contemporaries for forsaking him, they express the agony he felt for them, “for they know not what they do”. Had he not felt this agony, the Sovereign’s daughter would not have written, “He forgave everyone”, which was the message of reconciliation he asked her to give everyone who had remained faithful to him. He also forgave us, only do we really “not know what we do”? After the toxic gas of the revolutionary propaganda evaporated, after the whole of Soviet historiography had insulted and spit in the face of the Royal Family, after the archives were opened for public perusal, after the letters, diaries, memoirs and eye witness accounts were published and after we became free to take sober account of the tragedy of the Royal Family’s murder, we suddenly hear from the television screens and from the incompetent historian, “The Empress was a idiot”. While another philosophizing TV anchorman, primping and preening, would say sneeringly, “I am not one of those who believes Nicholas II was a man of strong will”.

These people cannot “not to know”, they simply do not want to know. The world is quicker to defend its villains than its Saints. A few stalwartly souls would try to break their way into Tsarskoe Selo to defend the family to whom they had given their oath of allegiance. And these were not the high ranking Generals who unanimously advised the Emperor to abdicate from the Throne, who saw, like no one else in Russia, how much effort, mind and soul the Sovereign had invested in rectifying the situation in the Army. “Holding victory in his hands, he fell to the earth alive”, Winston Churchill wrote in his book ”World Crisis”, 1916-1918, London, 1927 Volume 1 – Page 476, about Emperor Nicholas II. This is how people fall when struck perfidiously from behind. One young Cornet was lucky enough to find his way into the palace. The abdication had been announced, but the Emperor was not at court. Fear for his life and the future of his children were growing with each passing hour. “With a single gesture, the Empress bade me to stand.

Her magnificent eyes were even more sunken from sleepless nights and anxiety and expressed the unbearable torment of her long suffering heart. What unearthly beauty and stateliness emanated from this eminent Imperial figure”! But Alexandra Feodorovna did not feel sorry for or try to comfort herself. “I am very grateful that you have come to see me and not abandoned me on this difficult and dreadful day! I would really like you to stay with me, but that, to my immense regret, is impossible. I know and understand how hard this is for you. I ask you to please take off my insignia, because I could not bear it if some drunken soldier tore them away from you in the street! I believe that you will continue to wear them in your heart”, she said to the Cornet, comforting him. Her Majesty, was simply a woman in the true meaning of this word, was being called an “idiot” throughout the country. Why? Well, you see, Count Witte had once been summoned to Her Majesty, whereby she compassionately expressed her surprise that there were so many poor and impoverished people in Russia and almost demanded that he stop this disgrace. “Oh! What naivety”? Yes, what treasured naivety! While filming a movie about Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the film crew worked in Darmstadt, the home town of the two Imperial Sisters. Everyone was amazed at the attention Alix and Elizabeth’s Family gave to the impoverished, orphans.

Especially to all the needy citizens in this modest duchy of their father, the size of which could, naturally, in no way compete with Russia’s expanses. Of course, the Grand Duchy of Hesse was a European Province. At first, the Empress could not and I think, was unable her entire life to reconcile herself to that fact that what could be done in her former homeland was impossible in her new, boundless homeland, which she came to love with all her heart. Who can reproach her for this? “I love those who yearn for the impossible”, said the great Goethe. Incidentally, Alexandra Feodorovna received the Cornet wearing a white nurse’s gown. From the very beginning of the war, she and her daughters had been caring for the wounded and the entire family had donated large sums of their own money to set up hospitals, equip hospital trains and purchase medication, equipment and clothing for the front line soldiers. On the eve of the war, no other European Government did more to defend peace than the Government in St. Petersburg. In November 1921, at the Washington Naval Conference, the U.S. President would say that the proposal to limit arms by reaching an agreement among the nations was nothing new. It was enough to recall the noble strivings expressed 23 years ago in an Imperial Rescript from His Majesty the Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russia’s. This was followed by an extensive quote from Nicholas IPs note, in which he appeals to the whole world to convene an International Conference in order to curb the arms race and develop mechanisms for preventing wars in the future.

The world was surprised that this proposal did not come from a weak, defenseless state, but from a vast and omnipotent Empire. All the great powers ignored this proposal. Kaiser Wilhelm II said that in practice he would continue to rely only on God and his sharp sword. England, which had the strongest navy in the world, refused to go for any reductions. Japan, which was hatching its own plans in the Far East, ignored the Russian note. Russian Foreign Minister Count Muraviev figuratively noted that the people reacted enthusiastically and the governments distrustfully. Anyone else would have given up, but Nicholas II continued his efforts. A repeat note followed and the Hague Peace Conference was indeed convened in 1899 under the chairmanship of the Russian Ambassador to London. A whole series of extremely important decisions was made, including on the non use of poison gases and explosive bullets. Conditions were drawn up regarding the upkeep of prisoners of war, as well as principles for peacefully settling conflicts and the International Court that functions to this day in The Hague was founded. Were these not rather too many achievements for a “weak willed” and “weak minded” Czar, before the perseverance and foresight of whom stubborn Europe was bowing? The main ideas of the Russian initiative were more fully realized in the creation of the League of Nations, which later passed the baton on to the United Nations. It is no accident that the original document calling on the states to take part in The Hague Peace Conference of 1899 signed by Nicholas II is exhibited in the UN building in New York.

Alexandra Feodorovna, as we know, was the granddaughter of British Queen Victoria. In his letters, the heir to the Russian Throne wholeheartedly called her “my dearest grandmother”, since she played an important role in their marriage. After breaking the resistance of his father, about the “staunch will” of whom the entire world had no doubt and who was not in favor of the heir marrying a Darmstadt Princess, the enamored Crown Prince came up against another obstacle. The protocol demanded that the future Empress convert to Russian Orthodoxy. This created a serious bone of contention for the young couple and it was Queen Victoria who managed to persuade her granddaughter to agree to this step. Nicky’s letters were full of genuine warmth and gratitude toward his “dearest grand mother” for her inestimable service. However, in one letter she scolded the young Czar with respect to the anti-British articles that appeared in Russian Newspapers. To which she received the following reply, “I must say that I cannot prohibit people from openly expressing their opinions in the press.

Don’t you think I have not been upset myself by the rather frequent unfair judgments about my country in the English newspapers? Even the books I am constantly being sent from London give a false account of our actions in Asia, our domestic policy and so on”. Several months later, the young couple expressed their joy over Queen Victoria’s consent to be godmother to their first child, Grand Princess Olga. Being accustomed to the European sound of the Royal Family’s names, Queen Victoria was evidently rather puzzled over the Russian Emperor’s choice of name for his daughter. “We chose the name Olga, because it has already been used several times in our family and it is an age old Russian name”, Nicky wrote in November 1895. But in the very next letter sent from Darmstadt, Queen Victoria, his “dearest grandmother”, was in for a rude awakening when she tried to put pressure on Nicky in the interests of British policy in the East. “As for Egypt, dear Grandmother, this is a very serious issue that affects not only France, but also all of Europe.

Russia is very interested in its shortest routes to Eastern Siberia being free and open. Britain’s occupation of Egypt is a constant threat to our sea routes to the Far East. It is clear that whoever controls the Nile valley also controls the Suez Canal. This is why Russia and France do not agree with Britain’s presence in this part of the world and both countries wish for real integrity of the canal”. March, which saw the murder of Alexander II and the abdication of Nicholas II, was a fateful month for the Romanov Dynasty. “Perhaps when we throw them the Romanov Crown, the people will have mercy on us; General Headquarters, Commander in Chief Alexeev and the Generals have long been in favor of the idea of a state coup”, mumbled Alexander Guchkov, Duma’s Chairman, “deathly pale with a trembling chin”, in those days to a handful of frightened State Duma Deputies. So, whose side are we on? On their side, or on the side of he who, after removing his Crown, said, “If Russia needs a sacrifice for its salvation, I will be that sacrifice”!


The Presentation Of The New Web Site -The Russian Empire In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II Took Place In The Multi-Media Museum Russia My History

The Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg was the venue for the event on 16th February 2019, Historian Peter Multatuli, Ph.D., arrived in the Urals to present a unique project. Multatuli, who is considered the country’s Leading Authority on the Life and Reign of Nicholas II, talked with local historians about the myths surrounding Russia’s last Tsar. He taked especially about his achievements and reforms in particular. The presentation of the new Web Site “The Russian Empire In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II” («Российская империя в эпоху правления императора Николая Второго») took place in the Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg. The event was hosted by the Club Of Historians, a joint project of the St. Catherine Foundation and the History Park. The St. Catherine Foundation took part in the Tsar’s Days events held in Ekaterinburg in July 2018 and the presentation of this new Web Site is the completion of the Imperial Year. 

“This Web Site is not about the Tsar’s Family, it is about the many achievements of the Russian Empire during the reign of the last Russian Sovereign”, noted Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation. “It was one of the greatest epochs of reforming the country” added Peter Multatuli, “the country that the Emperor accepted in 1894 and the country which he was forced to give up in 1917, were very different countries. Everything was not perfect, however, more reforms were carried out in Russia under Emperor Nicholas II, than that undertaken by either Peter the Great and Alexander II”. The new Web Site is based on the calendar, “Russia In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II”, released last year. It has fact filled sections detailing the essence of reforms under Nicholas II, as well as debunking the many myths which exist to this day about his reign. “We realized that we needed a more complete source of information and launched a Web Site which details the achievements and reforms during the reign Nicholas II”, added Balanchuk. The Web Site became part of a large project organized by the St. Catherine Foundation, in conjunction with the Multi-Media Museum Russia My History, outdoor events, as well as work shops and lectures on late 19th and early 20th Century Russian History. The Web Site was launched in September 2018 and aroused great interest among a wide audience of more than six hundred (600) thousand people. Peter Multatuli, Candidate of Historical Sciences, gave a presentation lecture at the Saturday event.

He noted, that “myths are designed to ignore facts and to defame the last Russian Tsar”. For example, the events of 9th January 1905 (Bloody Sunday) were not a planned punishment of the “insidious ruler over the unhappy workers”. Multatuli went on to state that “although the city at the time of the execution of the Romanovs bore the name of St. Catherine, in fact it already belonged to Yakov Sverdlov”. “Yekaterinburg was the patrimony of Sverdlov and his devoted killer henchmen, including Yakov Yurovsky and Filipp Goloshchekin. These were Sveredlov’s devotees during 1905-1906, when he organized a revolutionary gang that engaged in looting, murder and expropriation”, said Multatuli. Speakers also talked about the importance of preserving the historical names of cities. According to Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation, “the topic of preserving names and toponymy is very relevant now”. “Russian cities were often named in relation to what was produced in a city, such as in honor of the heavenly patron or in honor of a river, which flows nearby and et-cetera”, said Multatuli. “Many names which reflected the Tsarist era were changed after the 1917 Revolution. Many streets named after prominent figures of Russian History are forgotten, instead they reflect those from the Soviet period”. The historian noted that the original names, which were assigned to the streets at the time of their creation at one or another period of history, could tell a lot about the history of this place.

History needs to be studied in order to educate a citizen in a person who will be responsible for his country. The era of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1894-1917) remains one of the most prominent in the history and development of Russia. Rapid economic development, the strengthening of the state’s defense, peace loving external initiatives, outstanding scientific discoveries, the successes of public education, advanced social policy for this period were all achieved in a short historical period. Thanks to the policies and reforms of Nicholas II, sophisticated state administration and the talents of statesmen, helped shape the necessary union which produced such brilliant results. Topics found in the new Russian Web Site include: Monetary, Agrarian, Military Reforms, Industrialization, Energy, Public Health, Scientific Breakthroughs, Russian Geographical Society, Constitutional State, Foreign And Domestic Trade. Also, Religious And Church Life, Mail, Telegraph And Postal Services, Charity And Patronage, The Birth Of Russian Aviation, Foreign Policy and much more. Please note that this Russian/English Language Web Site is still under development and once complete will also feature articles, news and videos. On a personal note, I would like to add that this new Russian Web Site is of great importance. It allows us to reexamine what we have been led to believe is the truth on the era of Nicholas II, from the many books and documentaries produced over the past fifty years. Many have been written by people who have failed to examine all the facts, especially those from Russian Sources.

As an example, during a BBC Radio Program Beyond Belief held on 20th August 2018, the programs’ host Ernie Rea was joined by four guests to discuss Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar. Among them was Andrew Phillips, Arch Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) and Rector of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Church in Colchester, England. They stated during the program that “Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar”. Fellow Panelist and Romanov Historian, Helen Rappaport did not comment on Father Andrew’s statement, however, she wasted little time in taking to Social Media to rebuke him. “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”, she argued during a discussion on Facebook with her “Romanov Circuit”. I also believe that Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar, the information presented in this new Russian Web Site providing the facts.

We all totally disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s comments and her rebuke of Father Andrew’s comments.


© H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun. 2 July 2020

The myth that Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference by the Russian people


Revolutionaries burning the Tsar’s portrait in 1917. Artist: Ivan Alekseevich Vladimirov (1869-1947)

Contemporary historians have led us to believe that news of Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference among the Russian people. Rather than conduct their own research on the matter, they choose instead to rehash the popular Bolshevik version of events – this is in itself is not the sign of a good historian.

While the elation exhibited by the revolutionaries is indeed true, it did not reflect the heartfelt sentiments of millions of Orthodox Christians, monarchists and others in the former Russian Empire.

Patriarch Tikhon (1865-1925), openly defended the Imperial family, by condemning the Bolsheviks for committing regicide.

When the tragic news of the murder of the Tsar’s family came, the Patriarch immediately served a memorial service at a meeting of the Council; then served the funeral Liturgy, saying that no matter how judged the policy of the Sovereign, his murder after he abdicated and who did not make the slightest attempt to return to power is an unjustified crime, and those who committed him should be branded as executioners.

On July 17/30 the Patriarch said: “But we, to grief and shame, survived until the time when a clear violation of God’s commandments are not only not recognized as sin, but justified as legitimate. So, a terrible thing happened: the former Tsar Nikolai Alexandrovich was shot … We must, in obedience to the teaching of the Word of God, condemn this action, otherwise the blood of those shot will fall upon us, and not just on those who committed it … Let them call us counter-revolutionaries, let us be imprisoned, let us be shot. We are ready to endure all this in the hope that the words of our Saviour are also referred to us: “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). “

Eugenie Fraser, born and raised in Russia writes about her years in Petrograd and news of the tsar’s death: “In August, filtered through from Siberia, came the news of the slaughter of the Royal family by the sadistic thugs of the Bolshevik party. Horror and revulsion touched every decent thinking citizen in the town. To execute the Tsar and his wife in this barbaric fashion was bad enough, but to butcher the four young girls and the helpless boy was the work of mindless criminals. In churches people went down on their knees and openly wept as they prayed for the souls of the Tsar and his family.”

“Even in all this turmoil and confusion, and even among those with little sympathy for the abdicated tsar, the brief five-line announcement in July 1918 of the execution of Nicholas II and his family in Ekaterinburg caused a terrible shock,” writes Serge Schmemann. He further notes “Prince Sergei Golitsyn recalled in his diary how people of all levels of society wept and prayed, and how he himself, as a nine year old boy, cried night after night in his pillow.”

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox further noted in his memoirs: “An old soldier . . . breathed into my ear that the Emperor was a good man, and fond of his people, but was surrounded by traitors.”

It is important to recall that it was in the summer of 1918, when Lenin unleashed the first Red Terror. People lived in fear of punishment from the thugs and criminals of the new order, for showing any sympathy for the murdered tsar. Many hid their framed portraits of the tsar, and kept their grief and monarchist sentiments to themselves.

This post is an abridged excerpt from my forthcoming book Nicholas II: A Century of Myths and Lies – scheduled for publication sometime in 2021


© Paul Gilbert. 19 June 2020