chapter  2
18 Pages

"A Time of External Slavery and Internal Freedom"

The personal characteristics and political outlook of Nicholas II, especially his uncompromising adherence to the principle of unlimited autocracy, played a major role in causing about the eventual revolution. As the son of Alexander III and a pupil of Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Nicholas was deeply convinced that autocracy was a form of power that had been handed down from on high; it was a sacred gift, and he had an obligation to bequeath it unchanged to his heir. As a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England, Alexandra (Nicholas's wife) had been brought up at Victoria's court and might have been expected to bring the influence of constitutional ideas to bear in Russia. The authorities immediately began to attack the zemstvos, which were considered the driving force of the opposition. At the turn of the century, the authorities extended the policy of unification and Russification to Armenia and Finland. The government's finances made impressive gains under Witte.