THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION

Written by Vladimir Moss

THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION

Many people think that the Russian revolution was the result of an elemental movement of the masses. This is not true – although it is true that the masses later joined it. The February revolution was a carefully hatched plot whose leader was the Mason, industrialist and conservative parliamentarian, A.I. Guchkov.

The plot was successful. But it succeeded in eventually bringing to power, not the Masonic liberals, but the Bolsheviks, who destroyed all the plotters and all their Masonic lodges, forcing the Masons themselves to flee back to their mother lodges abroad…[1]

The Plot

Yana Sedova writes: “Already in 1906, after a meeting with the Emperor, A.I. Guchkov came to the unexpected conclusion: ‘We are in for still more violent upheavals’. Then he wanted ‘simply to step aside’. But already in those years he began to talk about a ‘coup d’état’.

“In the next few years Guchkov’s attention was temporarily occupied by work in the State Duma. But in 1911 after the murder of Stolypin, as he later recalled, there arose in him ‘an unfriendly feeling’ towards the Emperor Nicholas II.

“At the beginning of 1913, at a meeting in his Petersburg flat, Guchkov told about a military coup in Serbia. The discussion moved to a coup in Russia. At this point one of the participants in the meeting said that ‘the party of the coup is coming into being’.

“Several months later, at a congress of his [Octobrist] party in Petersburg, Guchkov proclaimed the principle by which he was governed in the next four years: ‘the defence of the monarchy against the monarch’.

“The next year, during the ‘great retreat’, Guchkov created the Military-Industrial Committees, an organization whose official task was to help provide the army with ammunition. In fact, however, the committees turned out to be an instrument for the preparation of a coup.

“However, Guchkov would probably have continued to the end of his life only to ‘platonically sympathize’ with the coup, and do nothing himself, if once there had not appeared in his flat the leader of Russian masonry, N.V. Nekrasov.

“The two of them became the ‘initiators’ of a plan: ‘a palace coup, as a result of which his Majesty would be forced to sign his abdication passing the throne to his lawful Heir’.

“Soon another Mason, M.I. Tereschenko, joined the plot, and, as Guchkov recalled, ‘the three of us set about a detailed working out of this plan’.”[2]


On September 8, 1915 a “Committee of National Salvation” issued “Disposition Number 1”. “It affirmed,” writes N. Yakovlev, “that there were two wars going on in Russia – against a stubborn and skilful enemy from outside and a no less stubborn and skilful enemy from inside. The attainment of victory over the external enemy was unthinkable without a prior victory over the internal enemy. By the latter they had in mind the ruling dynasty. For victory on the internal front it was necessary… immediately to appoint a supreme command staff, whose basic core consisted of Prince G.E. Lvov, A.I. Guchkov and A.F. Kerensky.”[3]

Shtormakh considers that the main plotters were A.I. Guchkov, Prince G.E. Lvov, N.V. Nekrasov and M.I. Tereschenko, all of whom became ministers in the Provisional Government.[4] Lvov was leader of the Union of Zemstvos and Cities.

Some of the plotters may have considered regicide. Thus Shtormakh writes: “’In 1915,’ recounts the Mason A.F. Kerensky in his memoirs, ‘speaking at a secret meeting of representatives of the liberal and moderate conservative majority in the Duma and the State Council, which was discussing the Tsar’s politics, V.A. Maklakov, who was to the highest degree a conservative liberal, said that it was possible to avert catastrophe and save Russia only by repeating the events of March 11, 1801 (the assassination of Paul I).’ Kerensky reasons that the difference in views between him and Maklakov came down only to time, for Kerensky himself had come to conclude that killing the Tsar was ‘a necessity’ ten years earlier. ‘And besides,’ continues Kerensky, ‘Maklakov and those who thought like him would have wanted that others do it. But I suggested that, in accepting the idea, one should assume the whole responsibility for it, and go on to execute it personally’. Kerensky continued to call for the murder of the Tsar. In his speech at the session of the State Duma in February, 1917 he called for the ‘physical removal of the Tsar, explaining that they should do to the Tsar ‘what Brutus did in the time of Ancient Rome’.”[5]

According to Guchkov, they worked out several variants of the seizure of power. One involved seizing the Tsar in Tsarskoye Selo or Peterhof. Another involved doing the same at Headquarters. This would have had to involve some generals who were members of the military lodge, especially Alexeyev (a friend of Guchkov’s) and Ruzsky. However, this might lead to a schism in the army, which would undermine its capability for war. So it was decided not to initiate the generals into the plot – although, as we shall see, they played a very important role quite independently of Guchkov’s band, prevented loyal military units from coming to the aid of the Tsar, and themselves demanded his abdication.[6] A third variant, worked out by another Mason, Prince D.L. Vyazemsky, envisaged a military unit taking control of the Tsar’s train between Military Headquarters and Tsarskoye Selo and forcing him to abdicate in favour of the Tsarevich. Yet another plan was to seize the Tsar (on March 1) and exile him abroad. Guchkov claims that the agreement of some foreign governments to this was obtained.

The Germans got wind of these plans, and not long before February, 1917 the Bulgarian Ambassador tried to warn the Tsar about them. The Germans were looking to save the Tsar in order to establish a separate peace with him. But the Tsar, in accordance with his promise to the Allies, rejected this out of hand.

Yet another plan was worked out by Prince G.E. Lvov. He suggested forcing the Tsar to abdicate and putting Great Prince Nicholas Nikolayevich on the throne in his place, with Guchkov and Lvov as the powers behind the throne. The Mason A.I. Khatisov, a friend of the Great Prince, spoke with him and his wife about this, and they were sympathetic to the idea. Sedova claims that Lvov actually offered the throne to Nikolasha…[7]

At a meeting between members of the Duma and some generals in the study of Rodzyanko in February, 1917 another plot to force the Tsar to abdicate was formed. The leading roles in this were to be played by Generals Krymov and Ruzsky and Colonel Rodzyanko, the Duma leader’s son.

Finally, the so-called naval plot was formed, as Shulgin recounts, according to which the Tsaritsa (and perhaps also the Tsar) was to be invited onto a warship and taken to England.[8]

Besides the formal conspirators, there were many others who helped them by trying to undermine the resolve of the Tsar. Thus “before the February coup,” writes Yana Sedova, “in the Russian empire there were more and more attempts on the part of individual people to ‘open the eyes of his Majesty’ to the internal political situation.

“This ‘search for truth’ assumed a particularly massive character in November, 1916, beginning on November 1, when Great Prince Nicholas Mikhailovich arrived at Stavka to have a heart-to-heart conversation with his Majesty…

“Very many considered it their duty to ‘open the eyes of his Majesty’: Great Princes Nicholas and Alexander Mikhailovich, Nicholas Nikolayevich and Paul Alexandrovich, the ministers Ignatiev and Pokrovsky, Generals Alexeyev and N.I. Ivanov, the ambassadors of allied governments Buchanan and Paléologue, the president of the Duma M. Rodzyanko, Protopresbyter of the army and navy G. Shavelsky, the court commandant V.N. Voejkov, the chief representative of the Red Cross P.M. Kaufmann-Turkestansky, the official A.A. Klopov, the dentist S.S. Kostritsky…

“This is far from a complete list. It includes only conversations, but many addressed his Majesty in letters or try to influence the Empress (Great Prince Alexander Mikhailovich both spoke with his Majesty and sent him a very long letter and spoke with the Empress). ‘It seemed,’ wrote Rodzyanko later, ‘that the whole of Russia was beseeching his Majesty about one and the same thing, and it was impossible not to understand and pay heed to the pleas of a land worn out by suffering’.

“But what did ‘the whole of Russia’ ask about? As a rule, about two things: the removal of ‘dark powers’ and the bestowing of ‘a ministry of confidence’. The degree to which the boundaries between these two groups was blurred is evident from the fact that the Duma deputy Protopopov at first considered himself a candidate for the ‘ministry of confidence’, but when his Majesty truly appointed him a minister, the name of Protopopov immediately appeared in the ranks of the ‘dark powers’. By the ‘dark powers’ was usually understood Rasputin and his supposed protégés. Few began to think at that time that ‘the Rasputin legend’ was invented, and not invented in vain.

“It was less evident what the ‘ministry of confidence’ was. For many this term had a purely practical meaning and signified the removal from the government of certain ministers who were not pleasing to the Duma and the appointment in their place of Milyukov, Rodzyanko and other members of the Duma.

“But the closer it came to the February coup, the more demands there were in favour of a really responsible ministry, that is, a government which would be formed by the Duma and would only formally be confirmed by his Majesty. That a responsible ministry was no longer a real monarchy, but the end of the Autocracy was not understood by everyone. Nobody at that time listened to the words of Scheglovitov: ‘A monarchist who goes with a demand for a ministry of public confidence is not a monarchist’.

“As for the idea of appointed people with no administrative experience, but of the Duma, to the government in conditions of war, this was evidently thought precisely by those people. All these arguments about ‘dark forces’ and ‘a ministry of confidence’ first arose in the Duma and were proclaimed from its tribune. Evidently the beginning of the mass movements towards his Majesty in November, 1916 were linked with the opening of a Duma session at precisely that time. These conversations were hardly time to coincide with the opening of the Duma: rather, they were elicited by the Duma speeches, which were distributed at the time not only on the pages of newspapers, but also in the form of leaflets. ‘We,’ wrote Shulgin later, ‘ourselves went mad and made the whole country mad with the myth about certain geniuses, ‘endowed with public confidence’, when in fact there were none such…’

“In general, all these conversations were quite similar and usually irrelevant. Nevertheless, his Majesty always listened attentively to what was expressed in them, although by no means all his interlocutors were easy to listen to.

“Some of them, like many of the Great Princes and Rodzyanko, strove to impose their point of view and change his political course, demanding a ministry endowed with confidence or even a responsible ministry. His Majesty listened to them in silence and thanked them for their ‘advice’.

“Others, like General Alexeyev or S.S. Kostritsky, were under the powerful impression (not to say influence) of the Duma speeches and political agitation, which the truly dark forces who had already thought up the February coup were conducting at the time. Those who gave regular reports to his Majesty and whom he trusted were subjected to particularly strong pressure. If they began a heart-to-heart conversation, his Majesty patiently explained to them in what he did not agree with them and why.

“There existed a third category which, like P.M. Kaufmann, got through to his Majesty, even though they did not have a report to give, so as to tell him ‘the whole bitter truth’. They did not clearly know what they wanted, and simply said ‘everything that had built up in their souls’. Usually they began their speeches with the question: could they speak to him openly (as if his Majesty would say no to such a question!), and then spoke on the same two subjects, about the ‘dark powers’ and the government, insofar as, by the end of 1916, the same things, generally speaking, had built up in all their souls. The speech of such a ‘truth-seeker’ usually ended in such a sad way (Kaufmann just said: ‘Allow me: I’ll go and kill Grishka [Rasputin]!’) that his Majesty had to calm them down and assure them that ‘everything will work out’.

“One cannot say that his Majesty did not listen to his interlocutors. Some ministers had to leave their posts precisely because of the conversations. For example, on November 9, 1916 his Majesty wrote to the Empress that he was sacking Shturmer since nobody trusted that minister: ‘Every day I hear more and more about him. We have to take account of that.’ And on the same day he wrote in his diary: ‘My head is tired from all these conversations’.

“By the beginning everyone noticed his tiredness, and his interlocutors began more often to foretell revolution to him. Earlier he could say to the visitor: ‘But you’ve gone out of your mind, this is all in your dreams. And when did you dream it? Almost on the very eve of our victory?! And what are you frightened of? The rumours of corrupt Petersburg and the babblers in the Duma, who value, not Russia, but their own interests?’ (from the memoirs of Mamantov). And then the conversation came to an end. But now he had to reply to the most senseless attacks. And he replied. To the rumours of betrayal in the entourage of the Empress: ‘What, in your opinion I’m a traitor?’ To the diagnosis made by the Duma about Protopopov: ‘When did he begin to go mad? When I appointed him a minister?’ To the demand ‘to deserve the confidence of the people’: ‘But is it not that my people has to deserve my confidence?’ However, they did not listen to him…”[9]

Given that the tsar had been given the right and the grace to rule through the special rite of anointing to the kingdom, how was he to exercise his rule in relation to rebels? This was truly a most difficult problem, which required both the meekness of David and the wisdom of Solomon – and the firmness of Tsar Nicholas I. Tsar Nicholas II, as we have seen, was the most merciful of men, and the least inclined to manifest his power in violent action. Once the head of the police promised him that there would be no revolution in Russia for a hundred years if the Tsar would permit 50,000 executions. The Tsar quickly refused this proposal… And yet he could be firm. Thus once, in 1906, Admiral F.V. Dubasov asked him to have mercy on a terrorist who had tried to kill him. The Tsar replied: “Field tribunals act independently and independently of me: let them act with all the strictness of the law. With men who have become bestial there is not, and cannot be, any other means of struggle. You know me, I am not malicious: I write to you completely convinced of the rightness of my opinion. It is painful and hard, but right to say this, that ‘to our shame and gall’ [Stolypin’s words] only the execution of a few can prevent a sea of blood and has already prevented it.”[10]

The eve of the revolution of February, 1917 was, of course, no less serious a crisis than 1905. In the Duma in November Milyukov had uttered his famous – and famously seditious - evaluation of the regime’s performance: “Is it stupidity – or treason?” Treason was certainly afoot among the Masons. And so, it could be argued, the Tsar should have acted against the conspirators against his throne at least as firmly as he had against the revolutionaries of 1905.

Moreover, this was precisely what the Tsaritsa argued in private letters to her husband: “Show to all, that you are the Master & your will shall be obeyed – the time of great indulgence & gentleness is over – now comes your reign of will & power, & obedience…” (December 4, 1916). And again: “Be Peter the Great, John [Ivan] the Terrible, Emperor Paul – crush them all under you.” (December 14, 1916). She urged him to prorogue the Duma, remove Trepov and send Lvov, Milyukov, Guchkov and Polivanov to Siberia. But he did not crush them. And in attempting to understand why we come close to understanding the enigma of the reign of this greatest of the tsars.

One false explanation is that he was deterred by the death of Rasputin on December 16 at the hands of a Romanov, a Yusupov and a right-wing member of the Duma.[11] Rasputin had “prophesied”: “Know that if your relatives commit murder, then not one of your family, i.e. your relatives and children, will live more than two years…” Now Rasputin had been murdered by relatives of the tsar. Did this mean that resistance to the revolution was useless? However, the tsar was not as superstitious as his enemies have made out. One pseudo-prophecy could not have deterred him from acting firmly against the conspirators if that is what his conscience told him to do. Rasputin was certainly the evil genius of the Royal Family, and they – or the Tsaritsa, at any rate – were deceived in believing him to be a holy man. But his real influence on the course of events was only indirect – in giving the enemies of the Tsar an excuse for viciously slandering him.[12]

Archpriest Lev Lebedev has another hypothesis: “We shall not err by one iota if we suppose that such question arose at that time in the consciousness of the Tsar himself, that he too experienced movements of the soul in the direction of deciding everything by simply and speedily dealing with the conspirators. We remember his words, that ‘with men who have become bestial there is not, and cannot be, any other means of struggle’ (besides shooting them) and that ‘only the execution of a few can prevent a sea of blood’. But there appeared before the Tsar at that time in the persons of Lvov, Rodzyanko, Guchkov, etc. not ‘bestialized’ criminal murderers like the Bolsheviks, but respectable people with good intentions! Yes, they were in error in thinking that by removing the Tsar from power they rule Russia better [than he]. But this was a sincere error, they thought that they were truly patriots. It would have been wrong to kill such people! Such people should not even have been sent to Siberia (that is, into prison). It was necessary to show them that they were mistaken. And how better to show them than by victory over the external enemy, a victory which was already in their hands, and would be inevitable in four or five months! The tsar did not know that his closest generals had already prepared to arrest him and deprive him of power on February 22, 1917. And the generals did not know that they were doing this precisely in order that in four or five months’ time there should be no victory! That had been decided in Bnai-Brit, in other international Jewish organizations (Russia must not be ‘among the victor-countries’!). Therefore through the German General Staff (which also did not know all the plots, but thought only about its own salvation and the salvation of Germany), and also directly from the banks of Jacob Schiff and others (we shall name them later) huge sums of money had already gone to the real murderers of the Tsar and the Fatherland - the Bolsheviks. This was the second echelon [of plotters], it hid behind the first [the Russian Masons]. It was on them (and not on the ‘noble patriots’) that the world powers of evil placed their hopes, for they had no need at all of a transfigured Russia, even if on the western (‘their’) model. What they needed was that Russia and the Great Russian people should not exist as such! For they, the powers of evil, knew Great Russia better (incomparably better!) than the whole of Russian ‘society’ (especially the despised intelligentsia). Did Guchkov know about the planned murder of the whole of Great Russia? He knew! The Empress accurately called him ‘cattle’. Kerensky also knew, and also several specially initiated Masons, who hid this from the overwhelming majority of all the ‘brothers’ – the other Russian Masons. The specially initiated had already for a long time had secret links (through Trotsky, M. Gorky and several others) with Lenin and the Bolsheviks, which the overwhelming majority of the Bolsheviks, too, did not know!

“And what did his Majesty know? He knew that society was eaten up by Judaeo-Masonry, he knew that in it was error and cowardice and deception. But he did not know that at the base of the error, in its secret places, was treason. And he also did not know that treason and cowardice and deception were all around him, that is, everywhere throughout the higher command of the army. And what is the Tsar without an army, without troops?! Then there is the question: could the Tsar have learned in time about the treachery among the generals? Why not! Let’s take, for example, Yanushkevich, or Gurko, or Korfa (or all of them together), whom Sukhomlinov had pointed to as plotters already in 1909 (!). In prison, under torture – such torture as they had with Tsars Ivan and Peter – they would have said everything, given up all the rest…! But in this case, he, Nicholas II, would have needed to be truly like Ivan IV or Peter I from the beginning – that is, a satanist and a born murderer (psychologically), not trusting anyone, suspecting everyone, sparing nobody. It is significant that her Majesty joined to the names of these Tsars the name of Paul I. That means that she had in mind, not Satanism and bestiality, but only firmness (that is, she did not know who in actual fact were Ivan the Terrible and his conscious disciple, Peter I). But she felt with striking perspicacity that her husband was ‘suffering for the mistakes of his royal predecessors’. Which ones?! Just as we said, first of all and mainly for the ‘mistakes’ precisely of Ivan IV and Peter I. Not to become like them, these predecessors, to overcome the temptation of replying to evil with evil means – that was the task of Nicholas II. For not everything is allowed, not all means are good for the attainment of what would seem to be the most important ends. The righteousness of God is not attained by diabolic methods. Evil is not conquered by evil! There was a time when they, including also his Majesty Nicholas II, suppressed evil by evil! But in accordance with the Providence of God another time had come, a time to show where the Russian Tsar could himself become a victim of evil – voluntarily! – and endure evil to the end. Did he believe in Christ and love Him truly in such a way as to suffer voluntarily like Christ? The same Divine providential question as was posed for the whole of Great Russia! This was the final test of faith – through life and through death. If one can live only by killing and making oneself one with evil and the devil (as those whom one has to kill), then it would be better not to live! That is the reply of the Tsar and of Great Russia that he headed! The more so in that it was then a matter of earthly, historical life. Here, in this life and in this history to die in order to live again in the eternal and new ‘history’ of the Kingdom of Heaven! For there is no other way into this Kingdom of Heaven – the Lord left no other. He decreed that it should be experienced only by this entry… That is what turned out to be His, God’s will!

“We recall that his Majesty Nicholas II took all his most important decisions after ardent prayer, having felt the goodwill of God. Therefore now, on considering earnestly why he then, at the end of 1916 and the very beginning of 1917 did not take those measures which his wife so warmly wrote to him about, we must inescapably admit one thing: he did not have God’s goodwill in relation to them! Her Majesty’s thought is remarkable in itself, that the Tsar, if he had to be ruled by anyone, should be ruled only by one who was himself ruled by God! But there was no such person near the Tsar. Rasputin was not that person. His Majesty already understood this, but the Tsaritsa did not yet understand it. In this question he was condescending to her and delicate. But, as we see, he did not carry out the advice of their ‘Friend’, and did not even mention him in his replies to his wife. The Tsar entrusted all his heart and his thoughts to God and was forced to be ruled by Him alone.” [13]

There is much of value in this hypothesis, but it is too kind to the Masonic plotters. Yes, they were “sincere” – but so were the Bolsheviks! It seems unlikely that the Tsar should have considered the Bolsheviks worthy of punishment, but the Masons not. More likely, in our opinion, is that he thought that acting against the Masons would bring forward the revolution at precisely the moment when he wanted peace in the rear of the army. Moreover, the Masons controlled the public organizations, like the Military-Industrial Committees and the Zemstvos, which, in spite of their disloyalty,] were nevertheless making their contribution to the providing ammunition for the army and helping the wounded. “The Emperor held the opinion that ‘in wartime one must not touch the public organizations’.”[14]

The February Revolution

In December, 1916 the Empress visited the prophetess Maria Mikhailovna of the Desyatina monastery in Novgorod. She was 107 years old and a severe ascetic. “You, beautiful lady, shall know suffering… Don’t fear the heavy cross”.

A few days later Rasputin was killed. Logically, this should have removed one of the main reasons for the people’s anger against the Royal Family. But the Russian revolution had little to do with logic, and in fact from now the revolution began…

The decision to cease plotting and begin acting was taken in January, 1917. In that month, there arrived in Petrograd an Allied Commission composed of representatives of England, France and Italy. After meeting with Guchkov, who was at that time president of the military-industrial committee, Prince G.E. Lvov, president of the State Duma Rodzyanko, General Polivanov, Sazonov, the English ambassador Buchanan, Milyukov and others, the mission presented the following demands to the Tsar:

1. The introduction into the Staff of the Supreme Commander of allied representatives with the right of a deciding vote.

2. The renewal of the command staff of all the armies on the indications of the heads of the Entente.

3. The introduction of a constitution with a responsible ministry.

The Tsar replied to these demands, which amounted to a demand that he renounce both his autocratic powers and his powers as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian armies, as follows:

1. “The introduction of allied representatives is unnecessary, for I am not suggesting the introduction of my representatives into the allied armies with the right of a deciding vote.”

2. “Also unnecessary. My armies are fighting with greater success than the armies of my allies.”

3. “The act of internal administration belongs to the discretion of the Monarch and does not require the indications of the allies.”

When the reply of the Tsar was made known there was a meeting in the English Embassy attended by the same people, at which it was decided: “To abandon the lawful path and step out on the path of revolution”. General A.M. Krymov suggested forming a band of plotters who would stop the Imperial train and demand that the Tsar abdicate by force. It was now or never, for, as P.N. Milyukov noted: “We knew that in the spring we would see the victories of the Russian Army. In such a case the prestige and attraction of the Tsar among the people would become so great that all our efforts to shake and overthrow the Throne of the Autocrat would be in vain. That is why we had to resort to a revolutionary explosion as soon as possible, so as to avert this danger.”[15]

On February 14, 1917 Kerensky declared at a session of the State Duma: “The historical task of the Russian people at the present time is the task of annihilating the medieval regime immediately, at whatever cost… How is it possible to fight by lawful means against those whom the law itself has turned into a weapon of mockery against the people?... There is only one way with the violators of the law – their physical removal.”[16]

And yet there were still those who saw clearly that the future of the Church and of Russia depended on the survival of the Autocracy. Thus on February 21 Bishop Agapetus of Yekaterinoslav together with members of the Yekaterinoslav section of the Union of the Russian People, headed by their president, Obraztsov, wrote to the chancellery of the Over-Procurator: “The gates of hell will not prevail over the Church of Christ, but the destiny of Orthodoxy in our fatherland is indissolubly bound up with the destiny of the Tsarist Autocracy. Remembering on the Sunday of Orthodoxy the merits of the Russian Hierarchs before the Church and the State, we in a filial spirit dare to turn to your Eminence and other first-hierarchs of the Russian Church: by your unanimous blessings and counsels in the spirit of peace and love, strengthen his Most Autocratic Majesty to defend the Sacred rights of the Autocracy, entrusted to him by God through the voice of the people and the blessing of the Church, against which those same rebels who are encroaching against our Holy Orthodox Church are now encroaching.”[17]

“In the middle of 1916,” writes Lebedev, “the Masons had designated February 22, 1917 for the revolution in Russia. But on this day his Majesty was still at Tsarksoye Selo, having arrived there more than a month before from Headquarters, and only at 2 o’clock on the 22nd did he leave again for Mogilev. Therefore everything had to be put back for one day and begin on February 23.[18] By that time special trains loaded with provisions had been deliberately stopped on the approaches to Petrograd on the excuse of heavy snow drifts, which immediately elicited a severe shortage of bread, an increase in prices and the famous ‘tails’ – long queues for bread. The population began to worry, provocateurs strengthened the anxiety by rumours about the approach of inevitable famine, catastrophe, etc. But it turned out that the military authorities had reserves of food (from ‘N.Z.’) that would allow Petrograd to hold out until the end of the snow falls. Therefore into the affair at this moment there stepped a second very important factor in the plot – the soldiers of the reserve formations, who were in the capital waiting to be sent off to the front. There were about 200,000 of them, and they since the end of 1916 had been receiving 25 roubles a day (a substantial boost to the revolutionary agitation that had been constantly carried out among them) from a secret ‘revolutionary fund’. Most important of all, they did not want to be sent to the front. They were reservists, family men, who had earlier received a postponement of their call-up, as well as new recruits from the workers, who had been under the influence of propaganda for a long time. His Majesty had long ago been informed of the unreliability of the soldiers of the Petrograd garrison and had ordered General Alexeyev to introduce guards units, including cavalry, into the capital. However, Alexeyev had not carried out the order, referring to the fact that, according to the information supplied by the commandant of the Petrograd garrison General Khabalov, all the barracks in the capital were filled to overflowing, and there was nowhere to put the guardsmen!... In sum, against 200,000 unreliable reservists who were ready to rebel the capital of the Empire could hardly number 10,000 soldiers – mainly junkers and cadets from other military schools – who were faithful to his Majesty. The only Cossack regiment from the reserves was by that time also on the side of the revolution. The plotters were also successful in gaining the appointment of General Khabalov to the post of commandant of the capital and district. He was an inexperienced and extremely indecisive man. Had Generals Khan-Hussein of Nakhichevan or Count Keller been in his place, everything might have turned out differently.

“On February 23, at a command, 30,000 (according to other data, 90,000) workers went on strike with the slogans ‘Bread!’ and ‘Down with the War!’ The police had difficulty in dispersing their demonstrations. On February 24 up to 170,000 workers poured out onto the streets of Petrograd. Their slogans were: ‘Down with the Tsarist Government!’, ‘Long Live the Provisional Government!’ (although it did not exist yet!) and ‘Down with the War!’. About 40,000 gathered in Nevsky Prospekt. The police and the soldiers pushed them away, but they went into the side streets, smashed shop windows, robbed the shops, stopped trams, and already sang the ‘Marseillaise’ and ‘Rise, Stand up, Working People!’ However, Protopopov reported to her Majesty in Tsarskoye that the disorders were elicited only by a lack of bread. In the opinion of many ministers, everything had begun with a chance ‘women’s rebellion’ in the queues. They did not know, or simply were frightened to know, that a previously organized revolution had begun. The Cossacks did nothing, protecting the demonstrators. On February 25 already 250,000 people were on strike! In their hands they held a Bolshevik leaflet (‘… All under the red flag of the revolution. Down with the Tsarist monarchy. Long live the Democratic Republic… Long live the Socialist International’.) At a meeting at the Moscow station the police constable Krylov hurled himself at a demonstrator in order to snatch a red flag from him, and was killed… by a Cossack! The crowd lifted the murderer on their shoulders. In various places they were beating, disarming and killing policemen. At the Trubochny factory Lieutenant Hesse shot an agitator, and those who had assembled, throwing away their red flags and banners, ran away. The same happened in the evening on Nevsky, where the demonstrators opened fire on the soldiers and police, and in reply the soldiers shot into the crowd (several people were immediately killed), who then ran away. The speeches of the workers, as we see, were the work of the hands of the second echelon of the revolution (the social democrats). But it is also evident that without the soldiers it would not have worked for either the first or the second echelon…

“On the evening of the same February 25, a Saturday, his Majesty sent Khabalov a personal telegram: ‘I order you to stop the disturbances in the capital tomorrow, disturbances that are inadmissible in the serious time of war against Germany and Austria. Nicholas.’ Khabalov panicked. Although everything said that there was no need to panic, decisive action even by those insignificant forces that were faithful and reliable, that is, firing against the rebels, could have stopped everything in its tracks. The Duma decreed that their session should stop immediately. But the deputies remained and continued to gather in the building of the Tauris palace.

“On February 26, a Sunday, it was peaceful in the morning and Khabalov hastened to tell his Majesty about this. What lengths does fear for themselves and for their position or career take people to!... On that day the newspapers did not come out, and at midday demonstrations began again and the Fourth company of the reserve battalion of the Pavlovsky regiment mutinied. It was suppressed, and the mutineers arrested. It was difficult to incite soldiers to rebel, even those like the Petrograd reservists. They replied to the worker-agitators: ‘You’ll go to your homes, but we’ll get shot!’… The plotters understood that the troops could be aroused only by some kind of exceptional act, after which it would no longer be possible for them to go back. Such an act could only be a serious military crime – a murder… The heart of the Tsar sensed the disaster. On the evening of the 26th he noted in his diary: ‘This morning during the service I felt a sharp pain in my chest… I could hardly stand and my forehead was covered with drops of sweat.’ On that day Rodzyanko sent the Tsar a telegram in which, after describing the disorders in the capital, the clashes of military units and the firing, he affirmed: ‘It is necessary immediately to entrust a person enjoying the confidence of the country (!) to form a new government. There must be no delay. Delay is like death. I beseech God that at this hour responsibility may not fall on the Crown-bearer.’ A liar and a hypocrite, Rodzyanko had more than once very bombastically expressed his ‘devotion’ to his Majesty, while at the same time preparing a plot against him. He immediately sent copies of this telegram to the commanders of the fronts – Brusilov and Ruzsky, asking them to support his demand for a ‘new government’ and a ‘person’ with the confidence of the country before his Majesty. They replied: ‘task accomplished’.

“On the night from the 26th to the 27th in the Reserve battalion of the Light-Guards of the Volhynia regiment (the regiment itself was at the front), the under-officer of the Second Company Kirpichnikov (a student, the son of a professor) convinced the soldiers ‘to rise up against the autocracy’, and gained their promise to follow his orders. The whole night the same agitation was going on in other companies. By the morning, when Captain Lashkevich came into the barracks, they told him that the soldiers had decided not to fire at the people any more. Lashkevich hurled himself at under-officer Markov, who had made this declaration, and was immediately killed. After this the Volhynians under the command of Kirpichnikov went to the reserves of the Preobrazhensky regiment. There they killed the colonel. The rebels understood that now they could escape punishment (and at the same time, being sent to the front) only if they would all act as a group, together (there was no going back). The ‘professional’ revolutionaries strengthened them in their feelings. The Volhynians and Preobrazhenskys were joined on the same morning of the 27th by a company of the Lithuanian regiment, the sappers, a part of the Moscow regiment (reservists, of course). The officers saved themselves from being killed, they started firing and ran. The workers united with the soldiers. Music was playing. They stormed the police units and the ‘Kresty’ prison, from which they freed all those under arrest, including recently imprisoned members of the ‘Working Group’ of the Military-Industrial Committee[19], who had fulfilled the task of being the link between the Masonic ‘headquarters’ and the revolutionary parties, and first of all – the Bolsheviks. They burned the building of the District Court. The appeal sounded: ‘Everyone to the State Duma’. And a huge crowd rolled into the Tauris palace, sacked it, ran amok in the halls, but did not touch the Duma deputies. But the Duma delegates, having received on the same day an order from his Majesty to prorogue the Duma until April, did not disperse, but decided to form a Provisional Committee of the State Duma ‘to instil order in the capital and to liaise with public organizations and institutions’. The Committee was joined by the whole membership of the bureau of the ‘Progressive Bloc’ and Kerensky and Chkeidze (the first joining up of the first and second echelons). Immediately, in the Tauris palace, at the same time, only in different rooms, revolutionaries of the second echelon, crawling out of the underground and from the prisons, formed the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies (which later added ‘and of Soldiers’’ to its name). The Soviet was headed by Alexandrovich, Sukhanov (Gimmer) and Steklov (Nakhamkes), and all the rest (97%) were Jews who had never been either workers or soldiers. Immediately the Executive Committee sent invitations round the factories for deputies to the Congress of Soviets, which was appointed to meet at 7 o’ clock in the evening, and organized ‘requisitions’ of supplies from the warehouses and shops for ‘the revolutionary army’, so that the Tauris Palace immediately became the provisioning point for the rebels (the Provisional Committee of the Duma had not managed to think about that!).

“The authorities panicked. Khabalov hastily gathered a unit of 1000 men under the command of Colonel A.P. Kutepov, but with these forces he was not able to get through to the centre of the uprising. Then soldiers faithful to his Majesty, not more than 1500-2000 men (!) gathered in the evening on Palace Square in front of the Winter Palace. With them was the Minister of War Belyaev, and Generals Khabalov, Balk and Zankevich. Khabalov telegraphed the Tsar that he could not carry out his instructions. He was joined by Great Prince Cyril Vladimirovich, who declared that the situation was hopeless. Then, during the night, there arrived Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich, the (younger) brother of the Tsar, who said that the soldiers would have to be taken out of the Palace since he ‘did not want the soldiers to fire at the people from the House of the Romanovs’. And he suggested telegraphing the Tsar to ask him to appoint Prince Lvov as the new President of the Council of Ministers… The completely bewildered generals were moved to the Admiralty, and the soldiers began to disperse. On the afternoon of the 28th their remnants left the Admiralty at the demand of the Minister of the Navy and, laying down their weapons, dispersed. One should point out that many members of the Imperial House behaved very unworthily in those days. They even discussed a plan for a ‘palace coup’ (to overthrow his Majesty and ‘seat’ one of the Great Princes on the throne). And some of the Great Princes directly joined the revolution. There were still some members of the Council of Ministers and the State Council in the Mariinsky Palace. They advised Protopopov (who was especially hated by ‘society’) to say that he was ill, which he did. Prince Golitsyn telegraphed the Tsar with a request that he be retired and that he grant a ‘responsible ministry’. His Majesty replied that he was appointing a new leader of the Petrograd garrison, and gave an order for the movement of troops against Petrograd. He gave Golitsyn all rights in civil administration since he considered ‘changes in the personal composition (of the government) to be inadmissible in the given circumstances’. His Majesty was very far from a Tolstoyan ‘non-resistance to evil’! On the same day, the 27th, he gave an order to send a whole group of military units that were brave and faithful to the Fatherland from all three fronts to Petrograd, and told everyone that on the 28th he would personally go to the capital. At the same time his Majesty ordered General N.I. Ivanov to move on Petrograd immediately with a group of 700 Georgievsky cavalrymen, which he did the next day. At that time, on February 27, the ministers and courtiers, gathering together for the last time, suddenly received the news that an armed crowed was heading for the Mariinsky Palace. They decided to disperse! They dispersed forever! The crowd came and began to sack and loot the Mariinsky.

It was all over with the government of Russia. On the evening of the 27th, as has been noted, there took place the first session of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, who elected Chkheidze as their president. They also elected a ‘literary commission’ and ordered the publication of the Soviet’s Izvestia. At that point, on the night from the 27th to the 28th, the Provisional Committee of the State Duma began to try and persuade Rodzyanko ‘to take power into his hands’, since, in the words of Milyukov, ‘the leaders of the army were in cahoots with him’. 15 minutes of tormented waiting passed. Finally, Rodzyanko agreed. The Provisional Committee proclaimed itself to be the ‘power’ of Russia. But…, as became clear, with the prior agreement of the Soviet’s Executive Committee! From that moment all the members of the Provisional Government, that is, the first ‘echelon’, would be led by the leaders of the Soviet, that is, the second ‘echelon’ of the revolution, although there were few who knew about that.

“On February 28th the uprising spread to the suburbs of Petrograd. In Kronstadt drunken soldiers killed Admiral Viren and tens of officers. In Tsarkoye Selo the troops who were guarding the Family of his Majesty declared that they were ‘neutral’.

“At 6 o’clock in the morning of February 28, 1917 Rodzyanko twice telegraphed General Alexeyev in Headquarters. The first telegram informed him that ‘power has passed to the Provisional Committee’, while the second said that this new power, ‘with the support of the troops and with the sympathy of the population’ would soon instil complete order and ‘re-establish the activity of the government institutions’. It was all a lie!”[20]

Tsar Nicholas’ Abdication

“On the 28th the Tsar set off by train from Headquarters to Tsarskoye Selo.

“The time had come to carry out Guchkov’s old plan. The Tsar’s train was stopped first at Malaya Vishera station, then at Dno station[21], supposedly because the stations further down the line were in the hands of the rebels, which, as it turned out, was a deception. Movement along the railway lines was already controlled by the appointee of the Masons and revolutionary Bublikov (a former assistant of the Minister of Communications).[22] Incidentally, he later admitted: ‘One disciplined division from the front would have been sufficient to put down the rebellion’. But Alexeyev, Brusilov and Ruzsky did not allow even one division as far as Petrograd, as we shall now see! It was decided to direct the Tsar’s train to Pskov, so as then to attempt to get through to Tsarskoye Selo via Pskov. The Tsar hoped that the whole situation could be put right by General Ivanov, who at that moment was moving towards Tsaskoye Selo by another route. So everything was arranged so that his Majesty should be in Pskov, where the Headquarters of the Commander of the Northern Front, General Ruzsky, was. The Tsar was very much counting on him. Not knowing that he was one of the main traitors… It has to be said again that this lack of knowledge was not the result of bad work on the part of the police. The Masons had done their conspiring well. Moreover, it did not enter the heads either of the police or of his Majesty that fighting generals, commanders of fronts, the highest ranks in the army, ‘the most noble gentlemen’ from the Duma, the ministries and institutions could be plotters!...

“On March 1 there arrived at the Duma new military units, or their deputations, with declarations of fidelity to ‘the new power’. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon there arrived Great Prince Cyril Vladimirovich at the head of the Guards Naval Squadron. He told Rodzyanko that he was at his disposal. Before that the Great Prince had sent to the leaders of the military units at Tsarskoye Selo, who had sent deputies to the Soviet, notes suggesting that they ‘unite with the new government’, following his example. In his memoirs Rodzyanko writes that Cyril Vladimirovich arrived ‘with a red bow on his chest’ and that this ‘signified a clear violation of his oath’ and ‘the complete dissolution of the idea of the existing order… even among the Members of the Royal House’. One cannot believe Rodzyanko. Other witnesses to the event do not recall the ‘red bow’. The Great Prince himself wrote during those days that he was forced to go to Rodzyanko ‘to save the situation’. Cyril Vladimirovich offered the Guards Squadron to Rodzyanko for the restoration of order in the capital, but they replied to him that there was no need for that. In 1924 Cyril Vladimirovich took upon himself the title of Emperor. While the memoirs of Rodzyanko appeared in 1925. Thus the invention of the ‘red bow’ and Great Prince Cyril’s welcoming of the revolution began to form. But the fact that they for some reason refused the services of the Guards does not tally with the invention. They gave the Great Prince neither encouragement nor any task to carry out, and he was the first to leave Russia during the Provisional Government, before the October revolution… Great Prince Cyril thought that he would be able to help the Duma to suppress the armed bands of the Soviet, he thought that Rodzyanko wanted this… But he was mistaken, and soon he understood his mistake. For this he was slandered.

“On the same March 1 the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies issued the famous ‘Order No. 1’ to the army, signed by the Mason N.D. Sokolov. Its essence was that soldiers’ committees should be elected by the troops and that only those orders of the Military Commission of the State Duma should be carried out which did not contradict the orders of the Soviet (!), and that all the weapons of the army should be at the disposal and under the control of the company and battalion elected committees and in no circumstances were ‘to be given to the officers, even at their demand’. Saluting and addressing [officers] by their titles were also rescinded. This was the beginning of the collapse of the Russian army. After the departure of his Majesty from Stavka General Alexeyev at 1.15 a.m. on March 1, without the knowledge of the Tsar, sent General Ivanov telegram No. 1833, which for some reason he dated February 28, in which he held Ivanov back from decisive actions by referring to ‘private information’ to the effect that ‘complete calm had arrived’ in Petrograd, that the appeal of the Provisional Government spoke about ‘the inviolability of the monarchical principle in Russia’, and that everyone was awaiting the arrival of His Majesty in order to end the matter through peace, negotiations and the averting of ‘civil war’. Similar telegrams with completely false information were sent at the same time to all the chief commanders (including Ruzsky). The source of this lie was the Masonic ‘headquarters’ of Guchkov. ‘Brother’ Alexeyev could not fail to believe the ‘brothers’ from the capital, moreover he passionately wanted to believe, since only in this could there be a ‘justification’ of his treacherous actions. General Ivanov slowly, but surely moved towards the capital. The railwaymen were forced, under threat of court martial, to carry out his demands. At the stations, where he was met by revolutionary troops, he acted simply – by commanding them: ‘On your knees!’ They immediately carried out the command, casting their weapons on the ground…”[23]

“Meanwhile, the Tsar arrived in Pskov. On the evening of March 1, 1917 there took place between him and General Ruzsky a very long and difficult conversation. N.V. Ruzsky, who thought the same about the situation in the capital as Alexeyev, on the instructions of Rodzyanko kept saying unashamedly to the members of the royal suite: ‘It remains only to cast ourselves on the mercy of the conquerors’, supposing that ‘the conquerors’ were the Masonic ‘Progressive Bloc’ of the State Duma… Unexpectedly for Nicholas II, Ruzsky ‘heatedly’ began to demonstrate to him the necessity of a ‘responsible ministry’. His Majesty calmly objected: ‘I am responsible before God and Russia for everything that has happened and will happen; it does not matter whether the ministers will be responsible before the Duma and the State Council. If I see that what the ministers are doing is not for the good of Russia, I will never be able to agree with them, comforting myself with the thought that the matter is out of my hands.’ The Tsar went on to go through the qualities of all the main actors of the Duma and the ‘Bloc’, showing that none of them had the necessary qualities to rule the country. However, all this was not simply an argument on political questions between two uninvolved people. From time to time in the course of this strange conversation his Majesty received witnesses to the fact that this was the position not only of Ruzsky, but also of Alexeyev. The latter sent a panicky telegram from Headquarters about the necessity immediately of bestowing ‘a responsible ministry’ and even sent him the text of a royal manifesto composed by him to this effect! Besides, it turned out that his Majesty could not even communicate with anyone by direct line! The Tsar sent [V.N.] Voeikov (the palace commandant) to telegraph his reply to Alexeyev. Voeikov demanded access to the telegraph apparatus from General Davydov (also a traitor from Ruzsky’s headquarters). Ruzsky heard the conversation and declared that it was impossible to hand over the apparatus. Voeikov said that he was only carrying out ‘the command of his Majesty’. Ruzsky said that ‘he would not take such an insult (?!), since he, Ruzsky, was the commander-in-chief here, and his Majesty’s communications could not take place through his headquarters without his, Ruzsky’s, knowledge, and that at the present worrying time he, Ruzsky would not allow Voeikov to use the apparatus at all! The Tsar understood that practically speaking he was already separated from the levers and threads of power. The members of his suite also understood this. One of them recalled that the behaviour and words of Ruzsky (on casting themselves ‘on the mercy of the conquerors’) ‘undoubtedly indicated that not only the Duma and Petrograd, but also the higher commanders at the front were acting in complete agreement and had decided to carry out a coup. We were only perplexed when this took place.’[24] It began ‘to take place’ already in 1915, but the final decision was taken by Alexeyev and Ruzsky during a telephone conversation they had with each other on the night from February 28 to March 1. I. Solonevich later wrote that ‘of all the weak points in the Russian State construction the heights of the army represented the weakest point. And all the plans of his Majesty Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich were shattered precisely at this point’.

“In view of the exceptional and extraordinary importance of the matter, we must once again ask ourselves: why was it precisely this point in the ‘construction’ that turned out to be the weakest? And once again we reply: because it was eaten up from within by the rust of Masonry, its propaganda. Then there is one more question: how did this become possible in the Russian Imperial army? And again the reply: only because, since the time of Peter I, through the implanting of Masonry into Russia, the ideological idol of ‘service to Russia and the Fatherland’ was raised in the consciousness of the nobility, and in particular the serving, military nobility, above the concept of service to God and the Tsar, as was demanded by the direct, spiritual-mystical meaning of the Oath given by the soldiers personally, not to some abstraction, but to a given, concrete Sovereign before God! The emperors of the 19th century did not pay due attention to this danger, or were not able to destroy this idol-worship. In truth, the last of them, his Majesty Nicholas II, was now paying in full for this, ‘suffering for the mistakes of his predecessors’.

“Seeing the extreme danger of the situation, at 0.20 a.m. on the night from March 1 to March 2 the Tsar sent this telegram to General Ivanov, who had already reached Tsarskoye Selo: ‘I ask you to undertake no measures before my arrival and your report to me.’ It is possible that, delighted at this text, Ruzsky, behind the back of his Majesty, on his own authority and against the will of the Tsar, immediately rescinded the sending of soldiers of the Northern Front to support Ivanov and ordered them to return the military echelons which had already been sent to Petrograd. At the same time Alexeyev from Headquarters, in the name of his Majesty, but without his knowledge and agreement, ordered all the units of the South-Western and Western fronts that had earlier been sent to Petrograd to return and stop the loading of those who had only just begun to load. The faithful officers of the Preobrazhensky regiment (and other units!) recalled with pain how they had had to submit to this command. They did not know that this was not the command of the Tsar, but that Alexeyev had deceived them!

“After this everything took place catastrophically quickly. His Majesty agreed to a ‘responsible government’. But when Rodzyanko was told about this in Petrograd, he replied that this was already not enough: for the salvation of Russia and the Dynasty, and the carrying through of the war to victory, everyone (who was everyone?) were demanding the abdication of his Majesty Nicholas II in favour of his son, the Tsarevich Alexis, with Great Prince Michael as regent over him. Moreover, Rodzyanko again, without any gnawing of conscience, lied to Alexeyev and Ruzsky that the Provisional Government had complete control of the situation, that ‘everybody obeyed him (i.e. Rodzyanko) alone’… He was hiding the fact that ‘everybody’ (that is, the Soviet first of all) were frightened, as of fire, of the return of the Tsar to the capital! For they were not sure even of the mutinous reservists, and if even only one warlike unit (even if only a division) were to arrive from the front – that would the end for them all and for the revolution! We can see what the real position of the Provisional Government was from the fact that already on March 1 the Soviet had expelled it from its spacious accommodation in the Tauris palace, which it occupied itself, into less spacious rooms, and refused Rodzyanko a train to go to negotiate with the Tsar. So Rodzyanko was compelled to beg. The Soviet gave him two soldiers to go to the post, since on the road the ‘ruler of Russia’, whom everyone supposedly obeyed, might be attacked or completely beaten up… One of the main leaders of the Soviet in those days was Sukhanov (Himmer). In his notes he conveyed an accurate general picture of the state of things. It turns out that the ‘progressivists’ of the Duma on that very night of March 1 in a humiliating way begged Himmer, Nakhamkes and Alexandrovich to allow them to create a ‘government’. Himmer wrote: ‘The next word was mine. I noted either we could restrain the masses or nobody could. The real power, therefore, was with us or with nobody. There was only one way out: agree to our conditions and accept them as the government programme.’ And the Provisional Committee (the future ‘government’) agreed! Even Guchkov (!) refused to take part in such a government. He joined it later, when the Bolsheviks allowed them to play a little at a certain self-sufficiency and supposed ‘independence’ before the public.

“… But Rodzyanko lied and deceived the generals, since it was his direct responsibility before the ‘senior brothers’ by all means not to allow the arrival of military units and the Tsar into Petrograd at that moment!

“At 10.15 a.m. on March 2 Alexeyev on his own initiative sent to all the front-commanders and other major military leaders a telegram in which, conveying what Rodzyanko was saying about the necessity of the abdication of his Majesty for the sake of the salvation of the Monarchy, Russia and the army, and for victory over the external foe, he added personally on his own part (as it were hinting at the reply): ‘It appears that the situation does not allow any other resolution.’ By 2.30 on March 2 the replies of the commanders had been received. Great Prince Nicholas Nikolayevich replied, referring to the ‘fateful situation’: ‘I, as a faithful subject (?!), consider it necessary, in accordance with the duty of the oath and in accordance with the spirit of the oath, to beseech Your Imperial Majesty on my knees’ (… to abdicate). General Brusilov (the future Bolshevik ‘inspector of cavalry’) also replied that without the abdication ‘Russia will collapse’. General Evert expressed the opinion that ‘it is impossible to count on the army in its present composition for the suppression of disorders’. This was not true! The army as a whole, and some units in particular, was devoted to his Majesty. Masonic and revolutionary propaganda was indeed being carried out in it, but it did not have the necessary success as long as the Tsar remained at the head of his Army. General Sakharov, while reviling the Duma for all he was worth (‘a thieving band of men… which has taken advantage of a propitious moment’), nevertheless, ‘sobbing, was forced to say that abdication was the most painless way out’… To these replies Alexeyev appended his own opinion, which was also in favour of the abdication of the Tsar. Only the commander of the Guards Cavalry, General Khan-Hussein of Nakhichevan (a Muslim) remained faithful to the Russian Orthodox Autocrat![25] ‘I beseech you not to refuse to lay at the feet of His Majesty the boundless devotion of the Guards Cavalry and our readiness to die for our adored Monarch’, was his reply to Alexeyev. But the latter did not pass on this reply to the Tsar in Pskov. They also did not tell him that Admiral Rusin in Headquarters had more or less accused Alexeyev and his assistant General Lukomsky of ‘treason’ when they had suggested that the admiral sign the text of a general telegram to his Majesty in the name of all the commanders expressing the opinion that abdication was necessary. Then Rusin voluntarily refused to serve the enemies of Russia and resigned his post. So at that time there were still leaders who were completely faithful to the Tsar, and not only traitors like Alexeyev, Lukomsky, Ruzsky and Danilov, or like Generals Brusilov, Polivanov, Manikovsky, Bonch-Bruyevich, Klembovsky, Gatovsky, Boldyrev and others, who tried to please the Bolsheviks. At 10 a.m. on March 2 his Majesty was speaking to Ruzsky about the abdication: ‘If it is necessary that I should step aside for the good of Russia, I am ready, but I am afraid that the people will not understand this’… At this point they brought the text of Alexeyev’s telegram to the commanders. It was decided to wait for the replies. By 3 p.m. the replies had arrived from Headquarters. Ruzsky, accompanied by Danilov and Savich, came with the text of the telegram to his Majesty’s carriage. The Tsar, as Danilov recalled, ‘seemed calm, but was paler than usual: it was evident that he had passed most of the night without sleep. He was dressed in a dark blue Circassian coat, with a dagger in a silver sheath in his belt.’ Having sat down at the table, his Majesty began to listen to Ruzsky. He informed him of the events of the past hours and handed the Tsar the replies of the commanders. The Tsar read them. Ruzsky, ‘emphasizing each word’, began to expound his own opinion, which consisted in the fact that his Majesty had to act as the generals advised him. The Tsar asked the opinion of those present. Danilov and Savich said the same as Ruzsky. ‘A deathly silence ensued,’ wrote Danilov. ‘His Majesty was visibly perturbed. Several times he unconsciously looked at the firmly drawn window of the carriage.’ His Majesty’s widowed mother, Empress Maria Fyodorovna, later, from the words of her son, affirmed that Ruzsky had even dared to say: ‘Well, decide.’

“What was his Majesty thinking about at that moment? According to the words of another contemporary of the events, the Tsar ‘clearly understood that General Ruzsky would not submit to his command if he ordered him to suppress the mutiny raging in the capital. He felt that a secret betrayal was encompassing him like a sticky spider’s web.’ Immediately the Empress learned that his Majesty was in Pskov, she expressed herself with maximum accuracy: ‘It’s a trap!’ Danilov continues: ‘Then, standing up and turning quickly towards us, [the Tsar] crossed himself and said: “I have decided… I have decided to renounce the Throne in favour of my son Alexis!... I thank all of you for your brilliant and faithful service. I hope that it will continue under my son…” It was as if a stone that had been pressing on us fell from our shoulders. It was a profoundly triumphant moment. The behaviour of the abdicated Emperor was worthy of every kind of praise.’

“The moment was fateful. But for the traitor-generals themselves. Each of them would later receive his recompense from the Bolsheviks and God. But it was also a fateful moment for the whole of Russia!”[26]

Why did the Tsar finally agree to abdicate? Yana Sedova finds the explanation in a letter he wrote to his mother at the very similar turning-point of October, 1905. “His Majesty himself explained the reason for his agreement [to concede a constitution]. He wrote about two paths, between which he had to choose: a dictatorship and a constitution. A dictatorship, in his words, would give a short ‘breathing space’, after which he would ‘again have to act by force within a few months; but this would cost rivers of blood and in the end would lead inexorably to the present situation, that is, the power’s authority would have been demonstrated, but the result would remain the same and reforms could not be achieved in the future’. So as to escape this closed circle, his Majesty preferred to give a constitution with which he was not in sympathy.

“These words about a ‘breathing-space’ after which he would again have to act by force could perhaps have been applied now [in 1917]. In view of the solitude in which his Majesty found himself in 1917, the suppression of the revolution would have been the cure, not of the illness, but of its symptoms, a temporary anaesthesia – and, moreover, for a very short time.”[27]

“By contrast with Peter I, Tsar Nicholas II of course was not inclined to walk over other people’s bodies. But he, too, was able, in case of necessity, to act firmly and send troops to put down the rebellious city. He could have acted in this way to defend the throne, order and the monarchical principle as a whole. But now he saw how much hatred there was against himself, and that the February revolution was as it were directed only personally against him. He did not want to shed the blood of his subjects to defend, not so much his throne, as himself on the throne… [He said:] ‘I have always protected, not the autocratic power, but Russia.’” [28]

Archpriest Lev Lebedev argues that the Tsar agreed to abdicate, because he believed that the general dissatisfaction with his personal rule could be assuaged by his personal departure from the scene. But he never saw in this the renunciation of the Monarchy and its replacement by a republic; he never thought this would mean the destruction of the Monarchy, but only its transfer to another member of the Dynasty – his son, under the regency of his brother. This transfer, he thought, would placate the army and therefore ensure victory against the external enemy, Germany.

Let us look at this hypothesis in detail… The first evidence of the Tsar’s real intentions is contained in his diary-entry for March 2: “My abdication is necessary. Ruzsky transmitted this conversation [with Rodzianko] to the Staff HQ, and Alexeyev to all the com­manders-in-chief of the fronts. The replies from all arrived at 2:05. The essence is that that for the sake of the salvation of Russia and keeping the army at the front quiet, I must resolve on this step. I agreed. From the Staff HQ they sent the draft of a manifesto. In the evening there arrived from Petrograd Guchkov and Shulgin, with whom I discussed and transmitted to them the signed and edited manifesto. At one in the morning I left Pskov greatly affected by all that had come to pass. All around me I see treason, cow­ardice, and deceit.”

Commenting on these last words, Fr. Lev writes: “The Tsar was convinced that this treason was personally to him, and not to the Monarchy, not to Russia! The generals were sincerely convinced of the same: they supposed that in betraying the Tsar they were not betraying the Monarchy and the Fatherland, but were even serving them, acting for their true good!... But betrayal and treason to God’s Anointed is treason to everything that is headed by him. The Masonic consciousness of the generals, drunk on their supposed ‘real power’ over the army, could not rise even to the level of this simple spiritual truth! And meanwhile the traitors had already been betrayed, the deceivers deceived! Already on the following day, March 3, General Alexeyev, having received more detailed information on what was happening in Petrograd, exclaimed: ‘I shall never forgive myself that I believed in the sincerity of certain people, obeyed them and sent the telegram to the commanders-in-chief on the question of the abdication of his Majesty from the Throne!’… In a similar way General Ruzsky quickly ‘lost faith in the new government’ and, as was written about him, ‘suffered great moral torments’ concerning his conversation with the Tsar, and the days March 1 and 2 ‘until the end of his life’ (his end came in October, 1918, when the Bolsheviks finished off Ruzsky in the Northern Caucasus). But we should not be moved by these belated ‘sufferings’ and ‘recovery of sight’ of the generals (and also of some of the Great Princes). They did not have to possess information, nor be particularly clairvoyant or wise, they simply had to be faithful to their oath – and nothing more! One of the investigators of the generals’ treason, V. Kobylin, is right is saying that no later ‘regrets’ or even exploits on the fields of the Civil war could wash away the stain of eternal shame from the traitor-military commanders. ‘The world has never heard of such an offence,’ he writes. ‘After that, nothing other than Bolshevism could or should have happened… The Russian Tsar had been betrayed… The whole of Russia had been betrayed… The Army had been betrayed, and after this it would also betray. As a consequence of the acts of Alexeyev and the commanders-in-chief there would be ‘Order N 1’ (of the Soviet), which was carried out to the letter by the same Alexeyev…’ The whole of this ‘chain reaction’ of betrayals and deceits was determined, according to the just word of N. Pavlov, ‘by the connection of the Tsars with Orthodoxy and the people and the act of anointing by God. Before… the past and the future (of Russia) his Majesty stood alone,’ says Pavlov. ‘On no other Monarch had the burden of such a decision ever been laid, since there is no greater or more important country than Russia’ Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitsev) adds: {Russia} ‘in general ceased to exist as a certain conciliar [sobornaia] personality’ – an exceptionally important observation! Although, in spite of the thought of Fr. Constantine, this did not happen immediately, at the moment of abdication.

“The whole point is that to the mysticism of Tsarist power as the ‘Head’ of Russia there corresponded the mysticism of its people’s ‘Body’. If you cut off the head of an ordinary person, then the body, like the head, is doomed to a rapid dying. But it was not like that with the mystical ‘Body’ of the people, Great Russia as a Conciliar Personality! This ‘Body’, this Personality was able in similar cases to generate a new Head in the form of a new Tsar, as had already happened more than once, for example in 1613! His Majesty Nicholas II knew this well. Therefore, in abdicating from his power personally, he firmly believed and knew that this power would be inherited by another Monarch, and in no other way, and he was completely right! A thousand times right! And wrong are those who rebuked (and to this day continue to rebuke) Nicholas II for ‘not thinking’ about the people, the Fatherland and Russia, and that by his abdication he ‘doomed’ them to something terrible. Nothing of the sort! After the inevitable period of a new Time of Troubles, the Great Russian people, that is, more than 80% of the population, which was deeply monarchist in the whole of its nature and psychology, could not fail to engender a new Orthodox Autocrat and nothing other than a restored Orthodox Kingdom!...

“… At that time, March 1-2, 1917, the question was placed before the Tsar, his consciousness and his conscience in the following way: the revolution in Petrograd is being carried out under monarchical banners: society, the people (Russia!) are standing for the preservation of tsarist power, for the planned carrying on of the war to victory, but this is being hindered only by one thing – general dissatisfaction personally with Nicholas II, general distrust of his personal leadership, so that if he, for the sake of the good and victory of Russia, were to depart, then he would save both the Homeland and the Dynasty!

“Convinced, as were his generals, that everything was like that, his Majesty, who never suffered from love of power (he could be powerful, but not power-loving!), after 3 o’clock in the afternoon of March 2, 1917, immediately sent two telegrams – to Rodzyanko in Petrograd and to Alexeyev in Mogilev. In the first he said: ‘There is no sacrifice that I would not undertake in the name of the real good of our native Mother Russia. For that reason I am ready to renounce the Throne in favour of My Son, in order that he should remain with Me until his coming of age, under the regency of My brother, Michael Alexandrovich’. The telegram to Headquarters proclaimed: ‘In the name of the good of our ardently beloved Russia, her calm and salvation, I am ready to renounce the Throne in favour of My Son. I ask everyone to serve Him faithfully and unhypocritically.’ His Majesty said, as it were between the lines: ‘Not as you have served Me…’ Ruzsky, Danilov and Savich went away with the texts of the telegrams.

“On learning about this, Voeikov ran into the Tsar’s carriage: ‘Can it be true… that You have signed the abdication?’ The Tsar gave him the telegrams lying on the table with the replies of the commanders-in-chief, and said: ‘What was left for me to do, when they have all betrayed Me? And first of all – Nikolasha (Great Prince Nicholas Nikolayevich)… Read!’”[29]

As in 1905, so in 1917, probably the single most important factor influencing the Tsar’s decision was the attitude of his uncle and the former Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich Romanov, “Nikolasha” as he was known in the family. It was indeed the case that there was very little he could do in view of the treason of the generals and Nikolasha. He could probably continue to defy the will of the social and political élite, as he had done more than once in the past. But could he defy the will of his generals? E.E. Alferev writes: “Factually speaking, in view of the position taken by [Generals] Ruzsky and Alexeev, the possibility of resistance was excluded. Being cut off from the external world, the Sovereign was as it were in captivity. His orders were not carried out, the telegrams of those who remained faithful to their oath of allegiance were not communicated to him. The Empress, who had never trusted Ruzsky, on learning that the Tsar’s train had been help up at Pskov, immediately understood the danger. On March 2 she wrote to his Majesty: ‘But you are alone, you don’t have the army with you, you are caught like a mouse in a trap. What can you do?’[30] Perhaps he could count on the support of some military units. But the result would undoubtedly be a civil war, whose outcome was doubtful, but whose effect on the war with Germany could not be doubted: it would give the Germans a decisive advantage at a critical moment when Russia was just preparing for a spring offensive. It was this last factor that was decisive for the Tsar: he would not contemplate undermining the war effort for any reason. For the first duty of an Orthodox Tsar after the defence of the Orthodox faith is the defence of the country against external enemies – and in the case of the war with Germany the two duties coincided. And so he laid aside the crown for his country’s sake.

“The Lord allowed the satanic plan of Guchkov – borrowed by him, as we recall, from the Young Turks – to be carried out exactly. The Tsar, having left Headquarters, was, while on his way (isolated from the concrete, immediate levers and threads of the administration of the army and state), seized by plotters from the highest officers of the army and by deceit forced to abdicate.

“The ‘monarchists’ Guchkov and Shulgin, who did not yet know of his decision, and were only thinking to incline him towards it, that is, to carry out the work which Ruzsky, Alexeyev and the others had already done, left Petrograd for Pskov without the Soviet of Deputies knowing (!). They arrived at about 10 p.m. on March 2. By this time, that is, in the evening, the Tsar had somewhat changed his original decision. The point was the extremely dangerous illness of his Son, the Tsarevich Alexis, who was still destined to rule, albeit under the regency of his uncle, Michael. The Tsar-Father, worrying about his, asked the doctors for the last time: was there the slightest hop of Alexis Nikolayevich being cured of haemophilia? And he received a negative reply: there was no hope. Then the Tsar took the decision to keep his sick son completely with himself and abdicate in favour of his brother Michael. However, the text of the abdication manifesto was still marked as March 2, 15.00 hours, that is, the moment when he decided to renounce his power. So when Guchkov and Shulgin brought the text of the manifesto that they had composed they found that it was not necessary. The Tsar gave them his. And they had to admit with shame how much more powerful, spiritual and majestic in its simplicity was the manifesto written by the Tsar that their talentless composition.[31] They begged the Tsar to appoint Prince Lvov as President of the Council of Ministers and General L.G. Kornilov as Commander of the Petrograd military district. The Tsar signed the necessary orders. These were the last appointments made by the Tsar.

“Seeing themselves as the controllers of the destinies and rulers of Russia, Guchkov and Shulgin both arrived in a concealed manner, bewildered, unshaven, in noticeably dirty collars, and departed with all the papers they had been given in a conspiratorial manner, looking around them and concealing themselves from ‘the people’ whom they thought to rule… Thieves and robbers! Guchkov’s plan had been carried out, while as for Guchkov himself – what a boundlessly pitiful situation did this very clever Mason find himself in, he who had worked for so many years to dig a hole under Tsar Nicholas II!

“Nicholas II’s manifesto declared: ‘During the days of the great struggle against the external foe which, in the space of almost three years, has been striving to enslave our Native Land, it has pleased the Lord God to send down upon Russia a new and difficult trial. The national disturbances that have begun within the country threaten to reflect disastrously upon the further conduct of the stubborn war. The fate of Russia, the honour of our heroic army, the well-being of the people, the entire future of our precious Fatherland demand that the war be carried out to a victorious conclusion, come what may. The cruel foe is exerting what remains of his strength, and nor far distant is the hour when our valiant army with our glorious allies will be able to break the foe completely. In these decisive days in the life of Russia, We have considered it a duty of conscience to make it easy for Our people to bring about a tight-knit union and cohesion of all our national strength, in order that victory might be the more quickly attained, and, in agreement with the State Duma We have concluded that it would be a good thing to abdicate the Throne of the Russian State and to remove Supreme Power from Ourselves. Not desiring to be separated from Our beloved Son, We transfer Our legacy to Our Brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, and bless Him to ascend the Throne of the Russian State. We command Our Brother to conduct State affairs fully and in inviolable unity with the representatives of those men who hold legislative office, upon those principles which they shall establish, swearing an inviolable oath to that effect. In the name of our ardently beloved Native Land We call upon all faithful sons of the Fatherland to fulfil their sacred duty before it, by submitting to the Tsar during the difficult moment of universal trials, and, aiding Him, together with the representatives of he people, to lead the Russian State out upon the path of victory, well-being and glory. May the Lord God help Russia. Pskov. 2 March, 15.00 hours. 1917. Nicholas.’ Countersigned by the Minister of the Court Count Fredericks.[32]

“Then – it was already night on March 2 – the Tsar telegraphed the essence of the matter to his brother Michael and asked forgiveness that he ‘had not been able to warn’ him. But this telegram did not reach its addressee.

“Then the train set off. Left on his own, in his personal compartment, the Tsar prayed for a long time by the light only of a lampada that burned in front of an icon. Then he sat down and wrote in his diary: ‘At one in the morning I left Pskov greatly affected by all that had come to pass. All around me I see treason, cow­ardice, and deceit.’

“This is the condition that reigned at that time in ‘society’, and especially in democratic, Duma society, in the highest army circles, in a definite part of the workers and reservists of Petrograd. But what of the rest of Russia?

“In Moscow on February 28th there were massive demonstrations under red flags. The garrison (also composed of reservists) passed over to the side of the rebellion on March 1. In those days a Soviet of workers’ deputies and a Committee of public organizations was formed in the Moscow Duma, as in Petrograd. Something similar took place also in Kharkov and Nizhni-Novgorod. In Tver a crowd killed Governor N.G. Byunting, who, as the crowd approached, had managed to make his confession to the bishop. And that’s all.

“The whole of the rest of Russia remained calm!...”[33]

It has been argued that this telegram-manifesto was not an abdication, but a final coded appeal to the army to support him. But such a supposition cannot be reconciled with the plain meaning of the text. And since all agree on the crystal-clear sincerity of Nicholas’ character, there is no reason not to believe the plain meaning of the text. What is true, however, is that the Tsar considered himself to be still Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Russia. That is why his train now moved towards Mogilev, and why neither Ruzsky nor Alexeyev nor even Guchkov prevented him from returning there.

And for almost a whole week he continued to lead all the Armed Forces of Russia!... But, although there were many senior officers there who were ready to die for him, the Tsar made no move to make use of his powerful position to march against the revolution. For, according to Lebedev, he was sincerely convinced that “his departure from power could help everyone to come together for the decisive and already very imminent victory over the external enemy (the general offensive was due to take place in April). Let us recall his words to the effect that there was no sacrifice which he was not prepared to offer for the good of Russia. In those days the Tsar expressed himself still more definitely: ‘… If Russia needs an atoning sacrifice, let me be that sacrifice’. The Tsar was convinced (and they convinced him) that… the Provisional Government, society and the revolution were all (!) for the preservation of the Monarchy and for carrying through the war to a glorious victory…”[34]

Lebedev is less than convincing here. Certainly, the Tsar’s first priority was a successful conclusion to the war. After all, on the night of March 2, after the abdication, he wrote in his diary: “For the sake of Russia, and to keep the armies in the field, I decided to take this step…” But that he still, after all the treason he has seen around him, believed that “the Provisional Government, society and the revolution [!] were all for the preservation of the Monarchy” seems hard to believe.

Tsar Michael’s Abdication

In any case, if he had any such illusions, they were soon to be shattered. “On March 3, 1917 it became clear that the Provisional Government and society were by no means for the Monarchy. On that day the members of the new government in almost their complete composition appeared before Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich with the text of Nicholas II’s manifesto on his abdication in favour of his brother. Only Guchkov and Milyukov expressed themselves for the preservation of the Monarchy (a constitutional one, it goes without saying), that is, for the Great Prince’s accepting power. The rest, especially Kerensky, Rodzyanko and Lvov, ardently tried to prove the impossibility and danger of such an act at the present time. They said openly that in that case Michael Alexandrovich could be killed, while the Imperial Family and all the officers could ‘have their throats cut’. A second historically important moment arrived. What would the Great Prince decide, who in those minutes was from a juridical point of view already the All-Russian Emperor?”[35]

Edvard Radzinsky describes the scene:-

“Michael came in, tall, pale, his face very young.

“They spoke in turn.

“Socialist Revolutionary Alexander Kerensky: ‘By taking the throne you will not save Russia. I know the mood of the masses. At present everyone feels intense displeasure with the monarchy. I have no right to conceal that the dangers taking power would subject you to personally. I could not vouch for your life.’

“Then silence, a long silence. And Michael’s voice, his barely audible voice: ‘In these circumstances, I cannot.’

“Michael was crying. It was his fate to end the monarchy. Three hundred years – and it all ended with him.”[36]

However, continues Lebedev, “Michael Alexandrovich… did not decide [completely] as Kerensky and the others wanted. He did not abdicate from the Throne directly in favour of the Provisional Government. In the manifesto that he immediately wrote he suggested that the question of his power and in general of the form of power in Russia should be decided by the people itself, and in that case he would become ruling Monarch if ‘that will be the will of our Great People, to whom it belongs, by universal suffrage, through their representatives in a Constituent Assembly, to establish the form of government and the new basic laws of the Russian State’. For that reason, the manifesto goes on to say, ‘invoking the blessing of God, I beseech all the citizens of the Russian State to submit to the Provisional Government, which has arisen and been endowed with all the fullness of power at the initiative of the State Duma (that is, in a self-willed manner, not according to the will of the Tsar – Prot. Lebedev), until the Constituent Assembly, convened in the shortest possible time on the basis of a universal, direct, equal and secret ballot, should by its decision on the form of government express the will of the people. Michael.’ The manifesto has been justly criticised in many respects. But still it is not a direct transfer of power to the ‘democrats’!”[37]

Nevertheless, Tsar Michael had effectively given the people the final say in how they were to be ruled, and thereby finally destroyed the monarchy. “We can see,” writes M.A. Babkin, “that the talk was not about the Great Prince’s abdication from the throne, but about the impossibility of his occupying the royal throne without the clearly expressed acceptance of this by the whole people of Russia.”[38] Tsar Nicholas clearly saw what had happened, writing in his diary: “God knows who gave him the idea of signing such rot”.[39]

Some have compared March, 1917 to the people’s election of the first Romanov tsar in 1613. At that time there had been no tsar, it was a time of anarchy; so it was incumbent upon the people to take the initiative in choosing their ruler. But here, as we have seen, Michael was already from a juridical point of view tsar by a lawful transfer of power from the former tsar. So, unlike Tsar Nicholas, who simply transferred power from himself to his lawful successor, with no hint of people-power, Tsar Michael undermined the very basis of the Monarchy by acting as if he were not the lawful tsar already. Like King Saul in the Old Testament he listened to the voice of the people rather than the voice of God – with fateful consequences for himself and the people.

It has been argued that Tsar Nicholas’ abdication had no legal force because there was no provision for abdication in the Basic Laws. As Michael Nazarov points out, the Basic Laws of the Russian Empire, which had been drawn up by Tsar Paul I and which all members of the Royal Family swore to uphold, “do not foresee the abdication of a reigning Emperor (‘from a religious… point of view the abdication of the Monarch, the Anointed of God, is contrary to the act of His Sacred Coronation and Anointing; it would be possible only by means of monastic tonsure’ [N. Korevo]). Still less did his Majesty have the right to abdicate for his son in favour of his brother; while his brother Michael Alexandrovich had the right neither to ascend the Throne during the lifetime of the adolescent Tsarevich Alexis, nor to be crowned, since he was married to a divorced woman, nor to transfer power to the Provisional government, nor refer the resolution of the question of the fate of the monarchy to the future Constituent Assembly.

“Even if the monarch had been installed by the will of such an Assembly, ‘this would have been the abolition of the Orthodox legitimating principle of the Basic Laws’, so that these acts would have been ‘juridically non-existent’, says Zyzykin (in this Korevo agrees with him). ‘Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich… performed only an act in which he expressed his personal opinions and abdication, which had an obligatory force for nobody. Thereby he estranged himself from the succession in accordance with the Basic Laws, which juridically in his eyes did not exist, in spite of the fact that he had earlier, in his capacity as Great Prince on the day of his coming of age, sworn allegiance to the decrees of the Basic Laws on the inheritance of the Throne and the order of the Family Institution’.

“It goes without saying that his Majesty did not expect such a step from his brother, a step which placed the very monarchical order under question…”[40]

In defence of Great Prince Michael, it should be pointed out that he, too, acted under duress, “under the pressure,” as Nazarov points out, “of the plotters who came to his house. Kerensky admitted that this had been their aim: ‘We decided to surround the act of abdication of Mikhail Alexandrovich with every guarantee, but in such a way as to give the abdication a voluntary character’.”[41]

The further question arises: was Tsar Nicholas right to abdicate? The saints’ utterances on this subject are not crystal-clear. Thus Eldress Paraskeva (Pasha) of Sarov (+1915), who had foretold his destiny at the glorification of St. Seraphim of Sarov in 1903, said: “Your Majesty, descend from the throne yourself”.[42] But Blessed Duniushka of Ussuruisk, who was martyred in 1918, said: “The Tsar will leave the nation, which shouldn’t be, but this has been foretold to him from Above. This is his destiny. There is no way that he can evade it.”[43]

And yet confusion and searching of consciences continued, as can be seen in a letter of some Orthodox Christians to the Holy Synod dated July 24, 1917: “We Orthodox Christians most ardently beseech you to explain to us in the newspaper Russkoe Slovo [Russian Word] what... the oath given to us to be faithful to the Tsar, Nicholas Alexandrovich, means. People are saying in our area that if this oath is worth nothing, then the new oath to the new Tsar [the Provisional Government?] will be worth nothing. Which oath must be more pleasing to God. The first or the second? Because the Tsar is not dead, but is alive and in prison…”[44]

Since Great Prince Michael had presented the choice of the form of State government to the Constituent Assembly, many opponents of the revolution were prepared to accept the Provisional Government on the grounds that it was just that – provisional. They were not to know that the Constituent Assembly would hardly be convened before it would be forcibly dissolved by the Bolsheviks in January, 1918. So the results of the Tsar’s abdication for Russia were different from what he had hoped and believed. Instead of an orderly transfer of power from one member of the royal family to another, the whole dynasty and autocratic order collapsed. And instead of preventing civil war for the sake of victory in the world war, the abdication was followed by defeat in the world war and the bloodiest civil war in history, followed by unprecedented sufferings and persecutions of the faith for generations.

Indeed, in retrospect we can see that the two royal abdications of March, 1917 brought to an end the 1600-year period of the Orthodox Christian Empire that began with the coming to power of St. Constantine the Great. “He who restrains” the coming of the Antichrist, the Orthodox Christian Emperor, “was removed from the midst” (II Thessalonians 2.7) – and very soon “the collective Antichrist”, Soviet power, began its savage torture of the Body of Holy Russia. St. John of Kronstadt had said that Russia without the Tsar would no longer even bear the name of Russia, and would be “a stinking corpse” - and so it proved to be…

And yet in a real sense the Tsar saved the monarchy for the future by his abdication. For in abdicating he resisted the temptation to apply force and start a civil war in a cause that was just from a purely juridical point of view, but which could not be justified from a deeper, eschatological point of view. In this he followed the example of Saints Boris and Gleb, and the advice of the Prophet Shemaiah to King Rehoboam and the house of Judah as they prepared to face the house of Israel: “Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren, the children of Israel. Return every man to his house…” (I Kings 12.24)).

The Tsar-Martyr resisted the temptation to act like a Western absolutist ruler, thereby refuting those in both East and West who looked on his rule as just that – a form of absolutism. He showed that the Orthodox Autocracy was not a form of absolutism, but something completely sui generis – the external aspect of the self-government of the Orthodox Church and people on earth. He refused to treat his power as if it were independent of the Church and people, but showed that it was a form of service to the Church and the people from within the Church and the people, in accordance with the word: “I have raised up one chosen out of My people… with My holy oil have I anointed him” (Psalm 88.18, 19). So not “government by the people and for the people” in a democratic sense, but “government by one chosen out of the people of God for the people of God and responsible to God alone”…

Paradoxically, one of the best tributes to the Tsar came from a foreigner, Winston Churchill, first Lord of the Admiralty in the British government and a Freemason since 1902 (master of the “Rosemary” lodge no. 2851): ‘Surely to no nation has Fate been more malignant than to Russia. Her ship went down in sight of port… Every sacrifice had been made; the toil was achieved… In March the Tsar was on the throne: the Russian Empire and the Russian army held up, the front was secured and victory was undoubted. The long retreats were ended, the munitions famine was broken; arms were pouring in; stronger, larger, better equipped armies guarded the immense front… Moreover, no difficult action was no required: to remain in presence: to lean with heavy weight upon the far stretched Teutonic line: to hold without exceptional activity the weakened hostile forces on her front: in a word to endure – that was all that stood between Russia and the fruits of general victory… According to the superficial fashion of our time, the tsarist order is customarily seen as blind, rotten, a tyranny capable of nothing. But an examination of the thirty months of war with Germany and Austria should correct these lightminded ideas. We can measure the strength of the Russian Empire by the blows which it suffered, by the woes it experienced, by the inexhaustible forces that it developed, and by the restoration of forces of which it showed itself capable… In the government of states, when great events take place, the leader of the nation, whoever he may be, is condemned for failures and glorified for successes. The point is not who did the work or sketched the plan of battle: reproach or praise for the outcome is accorded to him who bears the authority of supreme responsibility. Why refuse this strict examination to Nicholas II? The brunt of supreme decisions centred upon him. At the summit where all problems are reduced to Yea and Nay, where events transcend the faculties of men and where all is inscrutable, he had to give the answers. His was the function of the compass needle. War or no war? Advance or retreat? Right or left? Democratise or hold firm? Quit or persevere? These were the battlefields of Nicholas II. Why should he reap no honour for them?...

“The regime which he personified, over which he presided, to which his personal character gave the final spark, had at this moment won the war for Russia. Now they crush him. A dark hand intervenes, clothed from the beginning in madness. The Tsar departs from the scene. He and all those whom he loved are given over to suffering and death. His efforts are minimized; his actions are condemned; his memory is defiled… Stop and tell me: who else proved fitting? There was no lack of talented and bold people, vainglorious and proud in spirit, courageous and powerful. But nobody was able to answer those simple questions on which depended the life and glory of Russia. Holding victory in his hands, he fell to the earth alive…”[45]

The Church, the People and the Revolution

Why did the Church not intervene at this great crisis, as she had intervened on many similar occasions in Russian history? After all, on the eve of the revolution, the Church had canonized St. Hermogen, Patriarch of Moscow in the Time of Troubles, as if to emphasize that, just as St. Hermogen had refused to recognize the false Demetrius as a legitimate political authority, so the time was coming when it would again be necessary make a similar distinction between true and false political authorities. So surely the Church would stand up in defence of the monarchy as St. Hermogen did then?

However, the Synod showed itself to be at a loss at this critical moment. At its session of February 26, it refused the request of the Assistant Procurator, Prince N.D. Zhevakhov, to threaten the creators of disturbances with ecclesiastical punishments.[46] Then, on February 27, it refused the request of the Procurator himself, N.P. Rayev, that it publicly support the monarchy. Ironically, therefore, that much-criticised creation of Peter the Great, the office of Over-Procurator of the Holy Synod, proved more faithful to the Anointed of God at this critical moment than the Holy Synod itself…

“On March 2,” writes M.A. Babkin, “the Synodal hierarchs gathered in the residence of the Metropolitan of Moscow. They listened to a report given by Metropolitan Pitirim of St. Petersburg asking that he be retired (this request was agreed to on March 6 – M.B.). The administration of the capital’s diocese was temporarily laid upon Bishop Benjamin of Gdov. But then the members of the Synod recognized that it was necessary immediately to enter into relations with the Executive committee of the State Duma. On the basis of which we can assert that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church recognized the Provisional Government even before the abdication of Nicholas II from the throne. (The next meeting of the members of the Synod took place on March 3 in the residence of the Metropolitan of Kiev. On that same day the new government was told of the resolutions of the Synod.)

“The first triumphantly official session of the Holy Synod after the coup d’état took place on March 4. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev presided and the new Synodal over-procurator, V.N. Lvov, who had been appointed by the Provisional government the previous day, was present. Metropolitan Vladimir and the members of the Synod (with the exception of Metropolitan Pitirim, who was absent – M.B.) expressed their sincere joy at the coming of a new era in the life of the Orthodox Church. And then at the initiative of the over-procurator the royal chair… was removed into the archives… One of the Church hierarchs helped him. It was decided to put the chair into a museum.

“The next day, March 5, the Synod ordered that in all the churches of the Petrograd diocese the Many Years to the Royal House ‘should no longer be proclaimed’. In our opinion, these actions of the Synod had a symbolical character and witnessed to the desire of its members ‘to put into a museum’ not only the chair of the Tsar, but also ‘to despatch to the archives’ of history royal power itself.

“The Synod reacted neutrally to the ‘Act on the abdication of Nicholas II from the Throne of the State of Russia for himself and his son in favour of Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich’ of March 2, 1917 and to the ‘Act on the refusal of Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich to accept supreme power’ of March 3. On March 6 it decreed that the words ‘by order of His Imperial Majesty’ should be removed from all synodal documents, and that in all the churches of the empire molebens should be served with a Many Years ‘to the God-preserved Russian Realm and the Right-believing Provisional Government’.”[47]

But was the new government, whose leading members, as we have seen, were Masons[48], really “right-believing”? Even leaving aside the fact of their membership of Masonic lodges, which is forbidden by the Church, the answer to this question has to be: no. When the Tsar opened the First State Duma in 1906 with a moleben, the Masonic deputies sniggered and turned away, openly showing their disrespect for the Church. And now the new government, while still pretending to be Christian, openly declared that it derived its legitimacy, not from God, but from the revolution. Thus when the foreign minister, Paul Milyukov, was asked who had elected his government, he replied: “The Russian revolution elected us”.[49] But the revolution cannot be lawful, being the incarnation of lawlessness. How, then, could the Church allow her members to vote for Masonic or social-democratic delegates to the Constituent Assembly? After all, that Assembly would determine the future form of government of the Russian land.

On March 7 the Synod passed a resolution “On the Correction of Service Ranks in view of the Change in State Administration”. In accordance with this resolution, a commission headed by Archbishop Sergius (Stragorodsky) was formed that removed all references to the Tsar in the services of the Church. This involved changes to, for example, the troparion for the Church New Year, where the word “Emperor” was replaced by “people”, and the troparion for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Again, on March 7-8 the Synod passed a resolution, “On Changes in Divine Services in Connection with the Cessation of the Commemoration of the Former Ruling House”. The phrase “former ruling” (tsarstvovavshego) implied that there was no hope of a restoration of any Romanov to the throne.

Then, on March 9, the Synod addressed all the children of the Orthodox Russian Church: “The will of God has been accomplished. Russia has entered on the path of a new State life. May God bless our great Homeland with happiness and glory on its new path… For the sake of the many sacrifices offered to win civil freedom, for the sake of the salvation of your own families, for the sake of the happiness of the Homeland, abandon at this great historical moment all quarrels and disagreements. United in brotherly love for the good of Russia. Trust the Provisional Government. All together and everyone individually, apply all your efforts to the end that by your labours, exploits, prayer and obedience you may help it in its great work of introducing new principles of State life…”

Now it is understandable that the Synod would not want to risk a civil war by displaying opposition to the new government. But was it true that “the will of God has been accomplished”? Was it not rather that God had allowed the will of Satan to be accomplished, as a punishment for the sins of the Russian people? And if so, how could the path be called a “great work”? As for the “new principles of State life”, everyone knew that these were revolutionary in essence…

Babkin writes: “This epistle was characterised by B.V. Titlinov, professor of the Petrograd Theological Academy, as ‘an epistle blessing a new and free Russia’, and by General A.I. Denikin as ‘sanctioning the coup d’état that has taken place’. To the epistle were affixed the signatures of the bishops of the ‘tsarist’ composition of the Synod, even those who had the reputation of being monarchists and ‘black hundredists’, for example, Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow. This witnessed to the ‘loyal’ feelings of the Synodal hierarchs…”[50]

Why did the hierarchs sanction the coup so quickly? Probably in the hope of receiving internal freedom for the Church. This is hinted at in a declaration of six archbishops to the Holy Synod and Lvov on March 8: “The Provisional Government in the person of its over-procurator V.N. Lvov, on March 4 in the triumphant opening session of the Holy Synod, told us that it was offering to the Holy Orthodox Russian Church full freedom in Her administration, while preserving for itself only the right to halt any decisions of the Holy Synod that did not agree with the law and were undesirable from a political point of view. The Holy Synod did everything to meet these promises, issued a pacific epistle to the Orthodox people and carried out other acts that were necessary, in the opinion of the Government, to calm people’s minds…”[51]

Lvov broke his promises and proceeded to act like a tyrant, including expelling Metropolitan Macarius from his see. It was then that Metropolitan repented of having signed the March 9 epistle. And later, after the fall of the Provisional Government, he said: “They [the Provisional Government] corrupted the army with their speeches. They opened the prisons. They released onto the peaceful population convicts, thieves and robbers. They abolished the police and administration, placing the life and property of citizens at the disposal of every armed rogue… They destroyed trade and industry, imposing taxes that swallowed up the profits of enterprises… They squandered the resources of the exchequer in a crazy manner. They radically undermined all the sources of life in the country. They established elections to the Constituent Assembly on bases that were incomprehensible to Russia. They defiled the Russian language, distorting it for the amusement of half-illiterates and sluggards. They did not even guard their own honour, violating the promise they had given to the abdicated Tsar to allow him and his family free departure, by which they prepared for him inevitable death…

“Who started the persecution on the Orthodox Church and handed her head over to crucifixion? Who demanded the execution of the Patriarch? Was it those whom the Duma decried as ‘servants of the dark forces’, labelled as enemies of the freedom of the Church?... No, it was not those, but he whom the Duma opposed to them as a true defender of the Church, whom it intended for, and promoted to the rank of, over-procurator of the Most Holy Synod – the member of the Provisional Government, now servant of the Sovnarkom – Vladimir Lvov.”[52]

Lvov was indeed thoroughly unsuited for the post of over-procurator – he ended up as a renovationist and enemy of Orthodoxy. In appointing him the Provisional Government showed its true, hostile attitude towards the Church. It also showed its inconsistency: having overthrown the Autocracy and proclaimed freedom for all people and all religions, it should have abolished the very office of over-procurator as being an outdated relic of the State’s dominion over the Church. But it wanted to make the Church tow the new State’s line, and Lvov was to be its instrument in doing this. Hence his removal of all the older, more traditional hierarchs, his introduction of three protopriests of a Lutheran orientation into the Synod and his proclamation of the convening of an All-Russian Church Council – a measure which he hoped would seal the Church’s descent into Protestant-style renovationism, but which in fact, through God’s Providence, turned out to be the beginning of the Church’s true regeneration and fight back against the revolution…

Similarly uncompromising was the position of the future hieromartyr, Archbishop Andronicus of Perm. On March 4, in an address “To All Russian Orthodox Christians”, he called the present situation an “interregnum”. And although he called on all to obey the Provisional Government, he went on: “We shall beseech the All-Generous One that He Himself establish authority and peace on our land, that He not abandon us for long without a Tsar, as children without a mother. May He help us, as three hundred years ago He helped our ancestors, that we may unanimously and with inspiration receive a native Tsar from His All-Good Providence.”

Prince Lvov wrote to Andronicus demanding an explanation for his actions in support of the old regime, which “aimed at the setting up of the clergy against the new order”. The archbishop replied: “The act on the refusal of Michael Alexandrovich which legitimises the Provisional Government declared that after the Constituent Assembly we could have a monarchical government, or any other, depending on how the Constituent Assembly will pronounce on this. I have submitted to the Provisional Government, I will also submit to a republic if it will be established by the Constituent Assembly. But until then not one citizen is deprived of the freedom of expressing himself on the form of government for Russia; otherwise a Constituent Assembly would be superfluous if someone could irrevocably predetermine the question on the form of government in Russia.”[53]

A similar position was taken by Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky), who on March 5, at the end of the liturgy, declared: “When we received news of the abdication from the throne of His Most Pious Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, we prepared, in accordance with his instructions, to commemorate His Most Pious Emperor Michael Alexandrovich. But now he too has abdicated, and commanded that we should obey the Provisional Government, and for that reason, and only for that reason, we are commemorating the Provisional Government. Otherwise no power could force us to cease the commemoration of the Tsar and the Royal Family… We must do this, first, in fulfilment of the oath given by us to His Majesty Nicholas II, who handed over power to Prince Michael Alexandrovich, who handed this power over to the Provisional Government until the Constituent Assembly. Secondly, we must do this so as to avoid complete anarchy, larceny, fighting and sacrilege against the holy things. Only in one thing must we listen to nobody, neither now nor in the past, neither tsars nor rulers nor the mob: if they demand that we renounce the faith, or defile the holy things, or in general carry out clearly lawless and sinful acts.”[54]

Following the Holy Synod, Archpriest John Vostorgov, the future hieromartyr and a leading monarchist, considered the Provisional Government “completely lawful”: “Our former Emperor, who has abdicated from the throne, transferred power in a lawful manner to his brother. In his turn the brother of the Emperor, having abdicated from power until the final decision of the Constituent Assembly, in the same lawful manner transferred power to the Provisional Government, and to that permanent government that would be given to Russia by the Constituent Assembly. And so we now have a completely lawful Provisional Government which is the powers that be, as the Word of God calls it. To this power, which is now the One Supreme and All-Russian power, we are obliged to submit in accordance with the duty of religious conscience; we are obliged to pray for it; we are obliged also to obey the local authorities established by it. In this obedience, after the abdication of the former Emperor and his brother, and after their indications that the Provisional Government is lawful, there can be no betrayal of the former oath, but in it consists our direct duty.”[55]

However, Fr. John remained devoted to the monarchy, and on March 25-26, in a small journal intended for soldiers and workers, he published an appeal to remain faithful to the anointed of God. On March 27 this appeal was noted and condemned during a meeting of Council of the United Clergy and Laity of Moscow, and the resolution was passed that “Fr. Vostorgov should be removed completely from the clergy of the Moscow Church as an element in it that is strange and undesirable”. And so on May 13 Fr. John was removed from the posts of supervisor of church schools of the Trans-Volga and Urals dioceses and synodal missionary-preacher.[56]

But there were other “conservatives” who took a more revolutionary position. Thus on March 7 Archbishop Seraphim (Chichagov) of Tver and Kashin said: “By the mercy of God, the popular uprising against the old, wretched order in the State, which led Russia to the edge of destruction in the harsh years of world war, has taken place without many victims, and Russia has easily passed to the new State order, thanks to the firm decision of the State Duma, which formed the Provisional Government, and the Soviet of workers’ deputies. The Russian revolution has turned out to be almost the shortest and most bloodless of all revolutions that history has known…”[57]

And then there were the liberals, like Bishop Nicon (Bessonov) of Krasnoyarsk, who on March 10 said to his flock: “I suppose there should be a REPUBLIC in Russia, but not a democratic one, but a common one – a REPUBLIC in general; in its administration ALL classes participate, and not only the ‘proletariat’.” And on March 12 he addressed a meeting of the Cadet Party: “I am for a Russian republic. Our many Russian monarchs, and especially the last of them, Nicholas II, with his wife, so humiliated, so degraded and shamed monarchism that monarchy should not even be mentioned among us, even a constitutional one.”[58]

Meanwhile, the Council of the Petrograd Religio-Philosophical Society went still further, denying the very concept of Sacred Monarchy. Thus on March 11 and 12, it resolved that the Synod’s acceptance of the Tsar’s abdication “does not correspond to the enormous religious importance of the act, by which the Church recognized the Tsar in the rite of the coronation of the anointed of God. It is necessary, for the liberation of the people’s conscience and to avoid the possibility of a restoration, that a corresponding act be issued in the name of the Church hierarchy abolishing the power of the Sacrament of Royal Anointing, by analogy with the church acts abolishing the power of the Sacraments of Marriage and the Priesthood.”[59]

Fortunately, the Church hierarchy rejected this demand. For not only can the Sacrament of Anointing not be abolished, since it is of God: even the last Tsar still remained the anointed Tsar after his abdication. As Shakespeare put it in Richard II (III, ii, 54-7):

Not all the water in the rough rude sea

Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;

The breath of worldly men cannot depose

The deputy elected by the Lord. [60]

Not only can the sacred anointing not be washed off the forehead of the Tsar: Tsarism itself cannot be removed from the soul of Russia without causing its death. As St. John of Kronstadt said, if Russia were to be deprived of her tsar, she would become a “stinking corpse”. And so it turned out: as a strictly logical and moral consequence, “from the day of his abdication,” as St. John Maximovich wrote, “everything began to collapse. It could not have been otherwise. The one who united everything, who stood guard for the truth, was overthrown…”[61] For, as St. John said in another place: “The Tsar was the embodiment of the Russian people’s… readiness to submit the life of the state to the righteousness of God: therefore do the people submit themselves to the Tsar, because he submits to God. Vladyka Anthony [Khrapovitsky] loved to recall the Tsar’s prostration before God and the Church which he makes during the coronation, while the entire Church, all its members, stand. And then, in response to his submission to Christ, all in the Church make a full prostration to him.”[62]

In agreement with this, the philosopher Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin wrote: “Faithfulness to the monarchy is a condition of soul and form of action in which a man unites his will with the will of his Sovereign, his dignity with his dignity, his destiny with his destiny… The fall of the monarchy was the fall of Russia herself. A thousand-year state form fell, but no ‘Russian republic’ was put in its place, as the revolutionary semi-intelligentsia of the leftist parties dreamed, but the pan-Russian disgrace foretold by Dostoyevsky was unfurled, and a failure of spirit. And on this failure of spirit, on this dishonour and disintegration there grew the state Anchar of Bolshevism, prophetically foreseen by Pushkin – a sick and unnatural tree of evil that spread its poison on the wind to the destruction of the whole world. In 1917 the Russian people fell into the condition of the mob, while the history of mankind shows that the mob is always muzzled by despots and tyrants… The Russian people unwound, dissolved and ceased to serve the great national work – and woke up under the dominion of internationalists. History has as it were proclaimed a certain law: Either one-man rule or chaos is possible in Russia; Russia is not capable of a republican order. Or more exactly: the existence of Russia demands one-man rule – either a religiously and nationally strengthened one-man rule of honour, fidelity and service, that is, a monarchy, or one-man rule that is atheist, conscienceless and dishonourable, and moreover anti-national and international, that is, a tyranny.[63]

In view of this fact, the Church hierarchy must be considered to have betrayed the monarchy, paradoxically, by obeying it too slavishly. Instead of obeying the Tsar’s call to obey a self-appointed republican government composed of Masons and traitors, they should have rallied round the sacred principle of the Orthodox Autocracy and used their still considerable influence among the people to restore monarchical rule. A clear precedent existed: in the recently canonized Patriarch Hermogen’s call to liberate Russia from foreign rule and restore a lawful monarchy in 1612. Like Hermogen, they could have called the Russian people to arms against those who had forced the abdication of both the Tsar and Great Prince Michael, and who were therefore, in effect, rebels against lawful authority and subject to anathema. But the opportunity was lost through a combination of a commendable desire to avoid bloodshed and a less commendable lack of courage. Some hierarchs supported the revolution, others rejected it; but none were prepared to lead the people in such a way as to oppose the rebels and protect the monarchical principle. Nor did the Church approach any member of the Romanov dynasty with an invitation that he ascend the throne and end the interregnum. [64]

In this way, as some have argued, Russia came under the curse pronounced in 1613 against those who did not obey the Romanov dynasty from generation to generation: “It is hereby decreed and commanded that God's Chosen One, Tsar Michael Feodorovich Romanov, be the progenitor of the Rulers of Rus' from generation to generation, being answerable in his actions before the Tsar of Heaven alone; and should any dare to go against this decree of the Sobor - whether it be Tsar, or Patriarch, or any other man, may he be damned in this age and in the age to come, having been sundered from the Holy Trinity...” Of course, such a course would have been difficult, and would have required great courage. But it was not impossible. And we know the tragic, truly accursed consequences of the failure to follow it…

The weakness of the Church at this critical moment was the result of a long historical process. Having been deprived of its administrative independence by Peter the Great, the Church hierarchy was not ready to stand alone against the new regime in March, 1917. Instead, in the early days of March, it hoped that, in exchange for recognizing it and calling on the people to recognize it, it would receive full administrative freedom. But it was deceived: when Lvov came to power, he began to act like a tyrant worse than the old tsarist over-procurators. And then a wave of democratization began at the diocesan and parish level which the hierarchs did not have the strength to resist… Thus was the prophecy of Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov (+1867) fulfilled: “Judging from the spirit of the times and the intellectual ferment, we must suppose that the building of the Church, which has already been wavering for a long time, will collapse quickly and terribly. There will be nobody to stop this and withstand it. The measures undertaken to support [the Church] are borrowed from the elements of the world hostile to the Church, and will rather hasten her fall than stop it…”[65]

If the Church hierarchy, traditionally the main support of the Autocracy, faltered, it is not surprising that the people as a whole faltered, too. Their confusion was well expressed in a telegram sent to the Holy Synod on July 24, 1917 concerning the oath of loyalty that the Provisional Government was trying to impose on them: “We Orthodox Christians ardently beseech you to explain to us in the newspaper Russkoye Slovo what constitutes before the Lord God the oath given by us to be faithful to the Tsar, Nicholas Alexandrovich. People are saying amongst us that if this oath is worth nothing, then the new oath to the new Tsar is also worth nothing.

“Is that so, and how are we to understand all this? We do not want to decide this question ourselves, as we have been advised by someone whom we know, but by the Governing Synod, so that everyone should understand this in the necessary way, without differences of opinion. The zhids [Jews] say that the oath is nonsense and a deception, and that one can do without an oath. The popes are silent. Each layman expresses his own opinion. But this is no good. Again they have begun to say that God does not exist at all, and that the churches will soon be closed because they are not necessary. But we on our part think: why close them – it’s better to live by the church. Now that the Tsar has been overthrown things have got bad, and if they close the churches it’ll get worse, but we need things to get better. You, our most holy Fathers, must try to explain to all of us simultaneously: what should we do about the old oath and with the one they are trying to force us to take now?

“Which oath must be dearer to God. The first or the second? Because the Tsar is not dead, but is alive in prison. And is it right that all the churches should be closed? Where then can we pray to the Lord God? Surely we should not go in one band to the zhids and pray with them? Because now all power is with them, and they’re bragging about it.

“If that’s how things are going to be from now on, that is not good, and we are very dissatisfied…”[66]

So the hierarchs were confused and unhappy, the believing people were confused and unhappy – and the Tsar was alone, abandoned by all and bitterly repenting of his decision to abdicate the throne in favour of the so-called representatives of the people. And yet, as the holy eldress said, this was his destiny and he could not evade it. For since the leadership of a Christian State must be dual – through a partnership or “symphony” of Church and State – he could not continue to rule as an Orthodox Christian tsar. Just as it takes two willing partners to make a marriage, so it takes a head and a body who are willing to work with each other to make a Christian state. In Deuteronomy 17.14 the Lord had laid it down as one of the conditions of the creation of a God-pleasing monarchy that the people should want a God-pleasing king.[67] The bridegroom in this case was willing and worthy, but the bride was not…

As P.S. Lopukhin wrote: “At the moment of his abdication his Majesty felt himself to be profoundly alone, and around him was ‘cowardice, baseness and treason’. And to the question how he could have abdicated from his tsarist service, it is necessary to reply: he did this because we abdicated from his tsarist service, from his sacred and sanctified authority…”[68]

The Russian people did not want their pious Tsar, and so the Scripture was fulfilled: “We have no king, because we feared not the Lord…” (Hosea 10.3)



[1] Thus in October Kerensky and his Masonic colleagues fled to France, where they set up lodges under the aegis of the Grand Orient (Katkov, G. Fevral’skaia Revoliutsia (The February Revolution), Paris, 1984, pp. 175-82 ®).

[2] Sedova, “Ne Tsar’, a Ego Poddanie Otvetsvenny za Febral’skij Perevorot 1917 Goda” (Not the Tsar, but his Subjects were Responsible for the Coup of 1917”), Nasha Strana, N 2864, March 14, 2009, p. 3 ®.

[3] Yakovlev, 1 Avgusta, 1914, Moscow, 1974, p. 13 ®.

[6] Sedova, after arguing that the generals were never initiate into Guchkov’s plot, goes on: “Finally, nevertheless, Guchkov revealed his plan to Ruzsky. But this took place already after the coup. On learning of the plot, Ruzsky cried out: ‘Ach, Alexander Ivanovich, if you had told me about this earlier, I would have joined you.’ But Guchkov said: ‘My dear, if I had revealed the plan, you would have pressed a button, and adjutant would have come and you would have said: “Arrest him”.’” (“Ne Tsar…”, p. 4)

[7] Sedova, ““Byl li masonskij zagovor…?”

[9] Sedova, “’Razgovory po dusham’ Fevral’skikh Impotentov” (‘Heart-to-heart Conversation of the February Impotents’), Nasha Strana (Our Country), N 2834, December 29, 2007, p. 7 ®.

[10] Archpriest Lev Lebedev, Velikorossia (Great Russia), St. Petersburg, 1999, p. 430 ®.

[11] It is now thought that the third and fatal shot that killed Rasputin was actually fired by a British secret service agent.

[12] The Tsar did not condone the murder. But Grand Duchess Elizabeth considered it an act of true patriotism.

[13] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 473-475.

[14] Sedova, “ne Tsar…”, p. 3.

[15] Tatyana Groyan, Tsariu Nebesnomu i Zemnomu Vernij (Faithful to the Heavenly and Earthly King), Moscow, 1996, P. XCIV ®.

[16] Voprosy Istorii (Questions of History), 1990, N 10, p. 144 ®.

[17] Groyan, op. cit., pp. CXX-CXXI; Pravoslavnij Tsar-Muchenik (The Orthodox Tsar-Martyr), Moscow: Orthodox Pilgrim, 1997, p. 771 ®.

[18] There is conflicting evidence on this point. Sedova writes: “Later Guchkov said that the coup was planned for March-April, 1917. However his comrades in the plot were more sincere. In Yekaterinoslav, where Rodzyanko’s estate was situated, there came rumours from his, Rodzyanko’s house that the abdication of the Tsar was appointed for December 6, 1917. At the beginning of 1917 Tereschenko declared in Kiev that the coup, during which the abdication was supposed to take place, was appointed for February 8” (“Ne Tsar…”, p. 3). (V.M.)

[19] “The reports of the Petrograd department of the Okhrana concerning the preparations for the coup by forces of the Central Military-Industrial Committee became so eloquent that on January 27 the working group of the Committee was arrested. But this did not stop the plotters – the sessions of the workers in the Committee continued. However, the Okhrana department lost its informers from the workers’ group” (Sedova, “Ne Tsar…”, p. 3). (V.M.)

[20] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 477-481.

[21] “Dno” in Russian means “abyss, bottom” – an extraordinary coincidence! (V.M.)

[22] “The plotters had earlier prepared a group to seize the train from among the reserve Guards units in the so-called Arakcheev barracks in Novgorod province. That is why the train had to be stopped nearer these barracks, and not in Pskov” (Sedova, “Ne Tsar…”, p. 4). (V.M.)

[23] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 477-482.

[24] As we have seen, however, Guchkov claims that the generals were not initiated into the plot, but acted independently. Sedova agrees with this assessment. (V.M.)

[25] Also General Theodore Keller, who was later martyred. (V.M.)

[26] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 481-486.

[27] Sedova, “Pochemu Gosudar’ ne mog ne otrech’sa?” (Why his Majesty could not avoid abdication), Nasha Strana, March 6, 2010, no. 2887, p. 2 ®.

[28] Sedova, “Ataka na Gosudaria Sprava” (An Attack on his Majesty from the Right), Nasha Strana, September 5, 2009 ®.

[29] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 486-488. Cf. V.N. Voeikov, S tsarem i bez tsaria (With the Tsar and Without the Tsar), 1936, p. 212; Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev, The Fall of the Romanovs, Yale University Press, 1995, pp. 89-90, citing State Archive of the Russian Federation, document f.601, op. 1, d. 2102, 1.1-2. ® Nikolasha was blessed to ask the Tsar to abdicate by Metropolitan Platon, Exarch of Georgia (N.K. Talberg, “K sorokaletiu pagubnogo evlogianskogo raskola” (On the Fortieth Anniversary of the Destructive Eulogian Schism”), Jordanville, 1966, p. 36; Groyan, op. cit., p. CLXI, note).

[30] Alferov, Imperator Nikolaj II kak chelovek sil’noj voli (Emperor Nicholas II as a Man of Strong Will), Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1983, 2004, p. 121 ®.

[31] Shulgin wrote: “How pitiful seemed to me the sketch that we had brought him… It is too late to guess whether his Majesty could have not abdicated. Taking into account the position that General Ruzsky and General Alexeyev held, the possibility of resistance was excluded: his Majesty’s orders were no longer passed on, the telegrams of those faithful to him were not communicated to him… In abdicated, his Majesty at least retained the possibility of appealing to the people with his own last word” (in S.S. Oldenburg, Tsarstvovanie Imperatora Nikolaia II (The Reign of Emperor Nicholas II), Munich, 1949, vol. 2, p. 253 ®). (V.M.)

[32] Lebedev’s text has been slightly altered to include the whole text of the manifesto (V.M.).

[33] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 488-489.

[34] Lebedev, op. cit., p. 491.

[35] Lebedev, op. cit., p. 491.

[36] Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, London: Arrow, 1993, p. 173.

[37] Lebedev, op. cit., p. 491.

[38] Babkin, “Sviatejshij Sinod Pravoslavnoj Rossijskoj Tserkvi i Revoliutsionnie Sobytia Fevralia-Marta 1917 g.” (“The Most Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Revolutionary Events of February-March, 1917”), http://www.monarhist-spb.narod.ru/D-ST/Babkin-1, p. 3 ®.

[39] Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, p. 172.

[40] Nazarov, Kto naslednik rossijskogo prestola? (Who is the Heir of the Russian Throne?), Moscow: “Russkaia Idea”, 1996, p. 68 (in Russian)).

[41] Nazarov, op. cit., p. 69.

[42] Nikolai Gubanov, Nikolai II-j i Novie Mucheniki (Nicholas II and the New Martyrs), St. Petersburg, 2000, p. 70 ®.

[44] In Groyan, op. cit., pp. 122, 123.

[45] Churchill, World Crisis, 1916-1918, London, 1927, volume 1, p. 476.

[46] A.D. Stepanov, “Mezhdu mirom i monastyrem” (“Between the World and the Monastery”), in Tajna Bezzakonia (The Mystery of Iniquity), St. Petersburg, 2002, p. 491 ®.

[47] Babkin, op. cit., pp. 2, 3.

[48] This is also now generally accepted even by western historians. Thus Tsuyoshi Hasegawa writes: “Five members, Kerensky, N.V. Nekrasov, A.I. Konovalov, M.I. Tereshchenko and I.N. Efremov are known to have belonged to the secret political Masonic organization” (“The February Revolution”, in Edward Acton, Vladimir Cherniaev, William Rosenberg (eds.), Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution 1914-1921, Bloomington and Indianopolis: Indiana University Press, 1997, p. 59).

[49] Quoted in G.M. Katkov, Fevral’skaia Revoliutsia (The February Revolution), Paris: YMCA Press, 1984, p. 370 ®.

[50] Babkin, op. cit., pp. 3-4. Other hierarchs echoed the words of the Address in still more revolutionary tones. Thus Bishop Andrew of Ufa wrote: “The abdication from the throne of Nicholas II frees his former subjects from their oath to him. But besides this, every Orthodox Christian must remember the words of one Church song, that ‘if thou hast sworn, but not for the good, it is better for thee to break thine oath’ than to do evil (from the service on the day of the Beheading of John the Forerunner). I wrote about this in Thoughts on February 9, 1916, when I pointed to the great church-civil exploit of Metropolitan Philip of Moscow, who found in his conscience support for his rebuking the iniquities of the Terrible one. And so the question of the oath for those who have been disturbed and are weak in conscience completely falls away.… The Autocracy of the Russian tsars degenerated first into absolutism [samovlastie] and then into despotism [svoevlastie] exceeding all probability… And lo! their power has collapsed – the power that turned away from the Church. The will of God has been accomplished… The Catholic Church of Christ has been delivered from the oppression of the State.” (Ufimskie Vedomosti (Ufa Gazette), 1917, № 5-6, pp. 138-139; Monk Benjamin (Gomareteli), Letopis’ tserkovnykh sobytij Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi nachinaia s 1917 goda (Chronicle of Church Events, beginning from 1917), www.zlatoust.ws/letopis.htm (R)).

[51] Quoted by M.A. Babkin, Dukhovenstvo Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi i Sverzhenie Monarkhii (The Clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Overthrow of the Monarchy), Moscow, 2007, pp. 195-198 ®.

[52] Quoted in Groyan, op. cit., pp. 183-184. Basil Lurye writes: “Metropolitan Macarius together with the hierarchs who were members with him of the last Tsarist composition of the Synod shared the sin of justifying the February coup. His signature is under the appeal to the flock released by the Synod on March 9, 1917 which began with the blasphemous words: ‘The will of God has been accomplished’. Instead of anathematizing the ‘Provisional Government’ - in accordance with what the Order of Orthodoxy said about all those who plot against Tsarist power, and with what the former over-procurator, N.P. Rayev, suggested, - the bishops displayed their own lack of belief in what they themselves declared every year on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. They began to ‘work’ with the ‘Provisional Government’ as if it were a lawful power, and not a group of plotters who were under the anathema of the Church and who drew under this same all those who followed them. The Synod did not give in to the pressure of the new authorities, who tried to force it to issue a special act concerning the loss by the Tsar of his anointing, but, in sanctioning the sin against the Anointed one, it blessed the people to go on the path of the king-killers. To the great honour of Metropolitan Macarius it is necessary to say that it was precisely he among the older hierarchs who was the first to come to his senses. It was for that reason that he took up the strictly canonical position, not agreeing with his retirement from the Moscow Metropolia. Having uncanonically replaced Vladyka Macarius on the Moscow kathedra, the future Patriarch Tikhon understood this, but only much later (at the end of his life he asked forgiveness from Metropolitan Macarius). In 1957 the relics of the hierarch Macarius were found to be incorrupt.” (review of Molis’, boris’, spasajsya!, a collection of the letters of Metropolitan Macarius, in Vertograd-Inform, N 7 (40), July, 1998, p. 37 ®).

[53] Babkin, “Sviatejshij Sinod”, op. cit., p. 8.

[54] Archbishop Anthony, Pastyr’ i Pastva (Pastor and Flock), 1917, № 10, pp. 280-281; Pis’ma Blazhenneishago Mitropolita Antonia (Khrapovitskago) (The Letters of his Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Jordanville, 1988, p. 57; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., www.zlatoust.ws/letopis.htm, pp. 2-3. Cf. Victor Antonov, “1917 god: Arkhiepiskop Antonij i Fevralisty” (1917: Archbishop Anthony and the Februarists), Vozvrashchenie (Return), № 2 (6), 1994, p. 25 ®.

[55] Hieromartyr John, quoted in Groyan, op. cit., p. 128.

[56] Fr. Athanasius Gumerov, Pravda Very I Zhizni: Zhitie I Trudy Sviaschennomuchenika Protoiereia Ioanna Vostorga (The Righteousness of Faith and life: the Life and Works of Hieromartyr Protopriest John Vostorgov), Moscow, 2004, pp. 63-64 ®.

[57] Archbishop Seraphim, Tverskie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti (Tver Diocesan Gazette), 1917, № 9-10, pp. 75-76; in Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 4.

[58] Bishop Nicon, in Babkin, Dukhovenstvo, op. cit., p. 233.

[59] Groyan, op. cit., p. 142. Italics mine (V.M.).

[60] Again, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi has written: “King Saul lost the power of his anointing when he deliberately disobeyed God’s command. King Jehu was anointed to obey God’s commands, but he also failed. Divine blessing was withdrawn. That, however, was God’s decision. Can the anointed person, of himself, resign?...

“The mystery of anointing and crowning creates a special person; a person not untouchable or infallible, nor all-powerful or absolute, but sacred, consecrated and set apart from others and above the waves of politics.

“Tsar Nicholas II, anointed, crowned and consecrated in May, 1896, bore within himself, and shared with his Tsarina and wife, an inner calm and tranquillity of faith beyond all changes in politics and political forces. Spiritually speaking, his abdication on March 2, 1917, was of no effect. Those who are anointed cannot resign their spiritual elevation, though they may lay down the earthly trappings of power or have them torn away. Those who are true and devoted adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church have no right to speak of His Late Majesty as the ‘ex-Tsar’ or as the ‘Tsar-abdicate’. Clearly, those of the Russian Orthodox faith should recognize the direct link that has come down from the days of Moses, through the High Priests and Kings of Israel, to Tsar Nicholas II, in the God-commanded ceremony of anointing.” (“The Mystery of the Anointed Sovereigns”, Orthodox Life, vol. 32, no. 4, July-August, 1982, pp. 44, 45).

[61] St. John Maximovich, “Homily before a Memorial Service for the Tsar-Martyr”, in Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Redding, Ca., 1994, p. 133 (in Russian). Cf. Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev): "There is no need to say how terrible a 'touching' of the Anointed of God is the overthrow of the tsar by his subjects. Here the transgression of the given command of God reaches the highest degree of criminality, which is why it drags after it the destruction of the state itself" (Russkaia Ideologia (The Russian Ideology), St. Petersburg, 1992, pp. 50-51 ®. And so, insofar as it was the disobedience of the people that compelled the Tsar to abdicate, leading inexorably to his death, "we all," in the words of Archbishop Averky, "Orthodox Russian people, in one way or another, to a greater or lesser degree, are guilty of allowing this terrible evil to be committed on our Russian land" (Istinnoe Pravoslavie i Sovremennij Mir (True Orthodoxy and the Contemporary World), Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1971, p. 166 ®).

[62] St. John Maximovich, “The Nineteenth Anniversary of the Repose of His Beatitude Metropolitan Antony”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, N 19, 1955, pp. 3-4.

[63] Ilyin, Sobranie Sochinenij (Collected Works), Moscow, 1994, volume 4, 7; in Valentina D. Sologub, Kto Gospoden’ – Ko Mne! (He who is the Lord’s – to me!), Moscow, 2007, p. 53 ®.

[64] As Babkin writes, in March, 1917 “the monarchy in Russia, in accordance with the act of Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich, continued to exist as an institution”. Consequently the Synod should have acted as if there was an “interregnum” in the country (Dukhovenstvo, op. cit., p. 210). Again, Bishop Diomedes of Anadyr and Chukotka writes: “It was necessary in the name of the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church to persuade the Ruling House not to leave the Russian State to be destroyed by rebels, and to call all the rebels to repentance by anathematizing them with the 11th anathema of the Sunday of Orthodoxy” (Address of November 21 / December 4, 2008, http://www.russia-talk.com/otkliki/ot-601.htm (R).

[65] Sokolov, L.A. Episkop Ignatij Brianchaninov, Kiev, 1915, vol. 2, p. 250 ®.

[66] In Groyan, op. cit., pp. CXXII-CXXIII.

[67] As Lev Tikhomirov writes: "Without establishing a kingdom, Moses foresaw it and pointed it out in advance to Israel... It was precisely Moses who pointed out in advance the two conditions for the emergence of monarchical power: it was necessary, first, that the people itself should recognize its necessity, and secondly, that the people itself should not elect the king over itself, but should present this to the Lord. Moreover, Moses indicated a leadership for the king himself: 'when he shall sit upon the throne of his kingdom, he must… fulfil all the words of this law'." (Monarkhicheskaia Gosudarstvennost (Monarchical Statehood), Buenos Aires, 1968, pp. 127-129 ®).

[68] Lopukhin, “Tsar’ i Patriarkh” (Tsar and Patriarch), Pravoslavnij Put’ (The Orthodox Way), Jordanville, 1951, pp. 103-104 ®.

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