Tsar Nicholas and Family Killed
The 17th of July 1918 AD
Autocracies can and do work, but faced with unstoppable forces of social change, political unrest and military failure, and headed by someone of Tsar Nicholas IIís mediocre intellect and imagination, their downfall is almost inevitable. Nicholas utterly failed to reform a Russia where an almost medieval society was unsuited to fighting a modern war. His master-strokes included wartime prohibition, hitting both morale and taxes.
Nicholas abdicated in March 1917. The reins of government were taken first by the liberal Kerensky then, on Leninís return from Switzerland, by the Bolsheviks.
What to do with Nicholas and his family? The Tsar himself wanted exile in Britain, a request at first accorded by Lloyd George then denied after George V intervened, fearing a symbol of autocracy and military bungling on British soil would lead to dangerous comparisons. It might have been unwelcomed by our new American allies too, able with Russiaís exit from WWI to enter an alliance of democracies.
With the inter-marriage of European royal families George V'ís stance was surprising: Nicholas was his first cousin; Tsarina Alexandra was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria .
The Romanov royal family thus suffered effective internal exile in Tobolsk in the Urals and then Yekaterinburg in central Russia. When White Russian forces neared the latter city Nicholas, his wife, son, and four daughters were taken to the cellar of the house where they were kept and shot with revolvers by an eleven-man firing squad, supposedly on the orders of Lenin. However distasteful the killings, with them the revolutionaries removed a focus for reactionary forces. The pragmatic justification for killing the royal doctor, two servants and chef at the same time is less clear.
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