Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Alexander II of Russia...

Source: Wikipedia
Protip: If you're the Czar of a repressive autocratic empire and someone tries to blow you up while you're out riding in your bullet (and evidently bomb) proof carriage, don't leave the carriage. Another tip, if the police and soldiers attending to the wounded and rounding up the nihilist terrorists tell you to get out of the area, listen to them.

Czar Alexander II
Source: Wikipedia

Unfortunately, Alexander II did neither and was shortly after blown to bits. The irony is that the nihilists who assassinated him did it because they believe it would free the Russian peasantry. The irony comes from the fact that Alexander was planning to do just that! He was actually pretty liberal as absolute monarchists go and had planned on creating a Duma, or national parliament that invest it with real power. He would have still retained a lot of power on his own, but at least this Duma would have had some actual authority. So not only did this not happen, but worse yet, his son, Alexander III - I guess he thought Alexander was such a great name, he had to pass it on - was the exact opposite of his dad. Upon taking the throne, he backtracked on his father's reforms and acted brutally to oppress dissent, which I imagine did nothing to curtail the eventual overthrow of the monarchy in 1917.

It's actually amazing, if you think about it. If this Alexander II hadn't been assassinated and had gone on to create a Duma and do all the other things he wanted to do, there might not have been revolutions in the early twentieth, no Soviet Union, no spread of communism, no cold war. Mind blowing, isn't it, that the life or death of one man could affect world history? This is why I love history.

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