Written by Vladimir Moss



     The Masons began to execute their plans to overthrow the Russian autocracy in January, 1917. In that month, there arrived in Petrograd an Allied Commission composed of representatives of England, France and Italy whose purpose was to plan combined Allied strategy for the coming year. After meeting with the leading plotter Guchkov, who was president of the Military-Industrial Committee, Prince George Lvov, president of the State Duma Rodzyanko, General Polivanov (who had been dismissed from his post as Minister of War in March), the former foreign minister Sazonov, the English ambassador Buchanan, the Cadet leader Milyukov and others, the mission presented the following demands to the Tsar:


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

(ii)           The renewal of the command staff of all the armies on the indications of the heads of the Entente.

(iii)          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:


(i)             “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.”

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

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

     When this truthful and courageous reply was made known to the plotters, they assembled in the English Embassy and decided: “To abandon the lawful path and step out on the path of revolution”. As Milyukov explained: “We knew that in the spring there would be victories for the Russian Army. In that case the prestige and glamour of the Tsar among the people would become so strong that ll our efforts to shak and overthrow the Throne of the Autocrat would be in vain. That is why we had to resort to a very speedy revolutionary explosion, so as to avert this danger. [1]”Thus “the English Embassy,” wrote Princess Paley, “on the orders of Lloyd George, became a nest of propaganda. The liberals, and Prince Lvov, Milyukov, Rodzyanko, Maklakov, etc., used to meet there constantly. It was in the English embassy that the decision was taken to abandon legal paths and step out on the path of revolution.”[2]

     In January, the Tsar decided to form a “ministry of national trust”, but in view of the feverish state of the country, postponed his plan.[3] 

     On January 27, on the basis of reports from the Petrograd Okhrana, the members of a working group of the Military-Industrial Committee which served as a link with the revolutionary workers’ organizations, were arrested. The documents seized left no doubt about the revolutionary character of the working committee… But the new Prime Minister, Prince Golitsyn, softened the sentences of the plotters. [4]  And so “the sessions of the workers in the Committee continued. However, the Okhrana department lost its informers from the workers’ group.”[5]

     At the beginning of February the Tsar summoned N.A. Maklakov and entrusted him with composing a manifesto for the proroguing of the Duma – in case it should step out on the path of open revolution.[6] When the State Duma reassembled on February 14, Kerensky proclaimed this aim openly: “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.”[7] Kerensky also took a significant step away from the bloc and towards Lenin’s position, denouncing the bloc’s “imperialist” war aims and declaring that the war should be “liquidated”. 

     And yet loyal patriots still existed. Thus on February 21 Bishop Agapit 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.”[8] 

     The Tsar stayed in Tsarskoye Selo until February 22, when he was summoned urgently to Stavka by General Alexeyev. This surprised the Tsar, who did not see the need for it and wanted to stay close to the capital. It was clearly part of the plot – as Baroness Bukstevden points out, it was precisely in the next eight days, when the Tsar was away at the front, that the revolution took place…[9] 

     “In the middle of 1916,” writes Fr. Lev 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.[10] 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… that would allow Petrograd to hold out until the end of the snow falls.[11] 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 indicated 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’.[12]

     “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, 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 Taurida 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’.[13] 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 Taurida 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 Taurida 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 were 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 Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, who declared that the situation was hopeless. Then, during the night, there arrived Grand Duke 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…[14] 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 crowd 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 few 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 [under the command of Grand Duke Kyril Vladimirovich] 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!”[15]

     A little before this, at 3 a.m., Grand Duke Michael “was driven with a military escort to the Winter Palace, only just escaping revolutionarie by accelerating away. At the palace he found General Khabalov and a thousand loyal troops, but ordered them not to defend the palace…”[16]

     It was during the night of February 27-28 that the February revolution reached its first climax. When the government led by Golitsyn collapsed, and as long as the Tsar and General Ivanov were still on their way to Petrograd, Rodzyanko could have seized power as being the leader of the Duma, the only other lawful organ of power in the city. But he hesitated; and while the Duma deputies wasted time on speeches, precious time was lost. Meanwhile, in room number 12 of the same building, the Taurida palace, in which the Duma was meeting, a new, completely illegal organ of power, the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ deputies, was being formed. On hearing of this, writes Yakoby, “the group of Rodzyanko and Milyukov entered into negotiations with the leaders of the Soviet, and at exactly midnight these negotiations led to the creation of an executive committee of the State Duma, on which power was temporarily conferred.

     “This committee seemed quite moderate in its composition, although representatives of the rightist parties were not admitted into it, and the representatives of the leftists – Kerensky and Chkeidze – were given a very prominent role. In essence, this was the most complete capitulation of the ‘bourgeois’ elements of the revolution before the representatives of the proletariat. Never in their wildest dreams had Rodzyanko and those who thought like him gone further than a constitutional monarchy ruled by the highest financial circles and headed by a Sovereign playing only a decorative role. That noisy and disheveled monster that suddenly jumped from room number 12 like a demon from a box finally confused the irreconcilable opponents of ‘tsarism’…”[17]


     However, all was not lost yet: the Master of the House had not yet appeared on the scene…

     On February 28, the Tsar, having sent Ivanov to crush the revolution in Petrofrad, set off by train from Army Headquarters to his family in Tsarskoye Selo. He had been delayed several critical hours by the open disobedience of Quarter-master General Lukomsky, who wanted him to stay at Stavka.[18] Then, in accordance with Guchkov’s plan, the train was stopped first at Malaya Vishera, then at Dno. This was supposedly because the stations further down the line were in the hands of the rebels.

     The Russian word “Dno” means “bottom” or “abyss” – it was precisely at this spot that Imperial Russia reached the bottom of her historical path, and Orthodox Russia stood at the edge of the abyss.. 

     Lebedev continues: “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).[19] 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 Tsarskoye 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 Kirill Vladimirovich at the head of the Guards Naval Squadron. He told Rodzyanko that he was at his disposal…

     “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…”[20]

     “Meanwhile,: continues Lebedev, “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’.[21] 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.’[22] 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 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!”

     “At 2 a.m., now on 2 March,” writes Montefiore, “Nicholas agreed to appoint Rodaianko prime minister, retaining autocratic power. Then he went to bed. Ruzky informed Rodzianko, who replied at 3.30 a.m., ‘It’s obvious neither his Majesty nor you realize what’s going on here…there is no return to the past. The threatening demands for an abdication in favour of the son with Michael Alexandrovich as regent are becoming quite definite.’ In the course of that evening the bewhiskered gents of the Duma, who wished to preserve the monarchy, and the leather-capped Marxists of the Petrograd Soviet, who wanted a republic, had compromised to form a Provisional Government – and seek Nicholas’s abdication in favour of Alexei. The new premier was Prince Lvov, with Kerensky as justice minister. Now that they knew Nicholas was in Pskov, the Dumas sent two members, Guchkov and Vasily Shulgin, to procure his abdication. They set off immediately.”[23]

     However, as Lebedev writes,“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 ‘everyone’ (that is, the Soviet first of all) was 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..: ‘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. Grand Duke 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! ‘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!”[24]


     Why did the Tsar agree to abdicate? Yana Sedova goes back to the similar crisis of October, 1905. “His Majesty himself explained the reason for his agreement. He wrote that he had to choose between two paths: 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.”[25]

     “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…”[26]

     Archpriest Lev Lebedev agrees 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 envisaged only the transfer of power from himself to another member of the Dynasty – his son, under the regency of his brother. This, he thought, would placate the army and therefore ensure victory against Germany.

     Let us look more closely at this hypothesis… The Tsar wrote 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. 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 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!..

     “… 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 the victory of Russia, were to depart, 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 (Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich)… Read!’”[27]

     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.[28] 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 not the generals…[29 

     S.S. Oldenburg writes: “One can speculate whether his Majesty could have not abdicated. With the position taken by General Ruzsky and General Alexeyev, the possibility of resistance was excluded: the commands of his Majesty were not delivered, the telegrams of those who were loyal to him were not communicated to him. Moreover, they could have announced the abdication without his will: Prince Mark of Baden announced the abdication of the German emperor (9.11.1918) when the Kaiser had by no means abdicated! His Majesty at least retained the possibility of addressing the people with his own last word… His Majesty did not believe that his opponents could cope with the situation. For that reason, to the last moment he tried to keep the steering wheel in his own hands. When that possibility had disappeared – it was clear that he was in captivity – his Majesty wanted at least to do all he could to make the task of his successors easier… Only he did not want to entrust his son to them: he knew that the youthful monarch could not abdicate, and to remove him they might use other, bloody methods. His Majesty gave his opponents everything he could: they still turned out to be powerless in the face of events. The steering wheel was torn out of the hands of the autocrat-‘chauffeur’ and the car fell into the abyss…”[30]

    E.E. Alferev echoes this assessment and adds: “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?’”[31]

     Perhaps he could have counted on the support of some military units. But the result would undoubtedly have been a civil war, whose outcome was doubtful, but whose effect on the war with Germany could not be doubted: the Germans would have been given a decisive advantage at a critical moment when Russia was about to launch a spring offensive. This last factor 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.

     The Tsar had always steadfastly refused to consider any internal constitutional changes during the war for the very good reason that such changes were bound to undermine the war effort. For the same reason his enemies wanted to force him to make such changes while the war was still being waged. As George Katkov penetratingly observes, the Russian liberals’ and radicals’ “fear of the military failure and humiliation of Russia was, if we are not mistaken, only the decent cover for another feeling – the profound inner anxiety that the war would end in victory before the political plans of the opposition could be fulfilled, and that the possibilities presented to it by the exceptional circumstances of wartime, would be missed”.[32]

     The Lord allowed the satanic plan of Guchkov 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.


     Guchkov and Shulgin 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 than their talentless composition.[33] 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.[34]

     “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...”[35]

     General Voeikov writes: “Immediately the train had moved from the station, I went into the Tsar’s compartment, which was lit by one lampada burning in front of an icon. After all the experiences of that heavy day, the Tsar, who was always distinguished by huge self-possession, could not control himself. He embraced me and sobbed... My heart broke into pieces at the sight of such undeserved sufferings that had fallen to the lot of the noblest and kindest of tsars. He had only just endured the tragedy of abdicating from the throne for himself and his son because of the treason and baseness of the people who had abdicated from him, although they had received only good from him. He was torn away from his beloved family. All the misfortunes sent down upon him he bore with the humility of an ascetic... The image of the Tsar with his tear-blurred eyes in the half-lit compartment will never be erased from my memory to the end of my life...”[36]

     It has been argued that this telegram-manifesto was not an abdication, but a final coded appeal to the army to support him. But since all agree on the crystal-clear sincerity and guilelessness 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. That is why his train now moved towards Mogilev, and why neither Ruzsky nor Alexeyev nor even Guchkov prevented him from returning there. He appointed Nikolasha supreme commander of the armed forces, and Prince George Lvov – president of the Council of Ministers of the Provisional Government. For the last time, he listened to a report of General Alexeyev on the military situation, and at the end, in a low voice said that it was difficult for him to part from them, and it was sad for him to be present for the last time at a report, “but it is evident that the will of God is stronger than my will”.[37]

     Sister Florence Farmborough, an English Red Cross nurse serving at the Russian Front, writes: “Deprived of Throne and Power, his visit was sorrowful in the extreme. He spent only a few days there and was visited by his mother, the Dowager Empress Marie. There they parted; she, to return to her home in Kiyev; he, to return as a prisoner to his family in Tsarskoe Selo [the Village of the Tsar]. Those who saw him in Mogilev were amazed at the self-control and courage with which he carried out the final ceremonies. He wrote to his fighting men on the various Fronts and addressed the troops in person. He told them that he was leaving them because he felt that he was no longer necessary; thanked them for their never-failing loyalty; praised them for their unwavering patriotism and besought them to obey the Provisional Government, to continue the war and to lead Russia to Victory. Only his mournful, hollow eyes, and extreme pallor told of the effort he was making to preserve the calm demanded of him.

     “Even before he left Mogilev, vociferous celebrations were taking place in the town; large red flags blazed in the streets; all photographs of himself and family had disappeared; Imperial emblems were being pulled down from walls, cut off uniforms; and, while the ex-Tsar sat alone in his room, the officers who had visited him, cheered his brave words and bowed low – many in tears – before him as he bid them farewell, were at that moment queuing up in the open air, outside his window, to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Provisional Government.”[38]

     On March 7 the Provisional Government ordered the arrest of the Tsar, and on March 8 four Duma deputies came to Mogilev and arrested. This meant that he could not leave Russia (even if he had wanted to, which he and the Tsarina did not), and was the step that led inexorably to his martyrdom in Yekaterinburg the following year…

     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…”[39]

     Lebedev is not convincing here. The Tsar’s first priority was undoubtedly a successful conclusion to the war. After all, on the night of his abdication, he wrote in his diary: “I decided to take this step for the sake of Russia, and to keep the armies in the field.” But it is hard to believe that he still, after all the treason he had seen around him, believed that “the Provisional Government, society and the revolution [!] are all for the preservation of the Monarchy”…

     It is more likely is that he believed that without the cooperation of the generals and the Duma Russia could not win the war, which was the prime objective, upon which everything else depended.And so he abdicated, not because he had any illusions about the Provisional Government, but because, as a true patriot, he wanted Russia to win the war...

     One of the best comments on the Tsar in the February revolution came from Winston Churchill, a minister in the British government at the time: “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 now 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 light-minded 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…”[40 

     The autocrat, according to the Orthodox understanding, can rule only in partnership or “symphony” with the Church. Moreover, the leaders of neither Church nor State can rule if the people rejects them; for 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.[41] In view of this, the Tsar, who very well understood the true meaning of the autocracy, could not continue to rule if the Church and people did not want it. 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. The bridegroom in this case was willing and worthy, but the bride was not…

     In an important address entitled “Tsar and Patriarch”, P.S. Lopukhin approaches this question by noting that the Tsar’s role was one of service, service in the Church and for the Church. And its purpose was to bring people to the Church and keep them there, in conditions maximally conducive to their salvation. But if the people of the Church, in their great majority, cease to understand the Tsar’s role in that way, then he becomes literally of no service to them.

     “The understanding of, and love and desire for, the ‘tsar’s service’ began to wane in Russia. Sympathy began to be elicited, by contrast, by the bases of the rationalist West European state, which was separated from the Church, from the religious world-view. The idea of the democratic state liberated from all obligation in relation to God, the Church and the spiritual state of the people began to become attractive. The movement in this direction in the Russian people was long-standing and stubborn, and it had already a long time ago begun to elicit profound alarm, for this movement was not so much ‘political’ as spiritual and psychological: the so-called Russian ‘liberation’ and then ‘revolutionary movement’ was mainly, with rare and uncharacteristic exceptions, an a-religious and anti-religious movement.

     “It was precisely this that elicited profound alarm in the hearts of St. Seraphim, Fr. John of Kronstadt, Dostoyevsky and Metropolitan Anthony…

     “This movement developed inexorably, and finally there came the day when his Majesty understood that he was alone in his ‘service of the Tsar’.

     “The Orthodox Tsar must not be in spiritual isolation. For example, the ‘theocrat’, the ruler who believes that he is sent by God to rule a given people, that a God-established aim is the very fact of this monarch’s power over this people, such a monarch can drench the country in blood, subdue it, in order that everyone should tremble in fear, and ideologically he would be justified.

     “The Orthodox Tsar has authority in order that there should be a Christian state, so that there should be a Christian-minded environment. The Tsar bears his tsarist service for this end.

     “When the desire for a Christian state and environment is quenched in the people, the Orthodox monarchy loses both the presupposition and the aim of its existence, for nobody can be forced to become a Christian. The Tsar needs Christians, not trembling slaves.

     “In the life of a people and of a man there are periods of spiritual darkening, of ‘stony lack of feeling’, but this does not mean that the man has become completely stony: the days of temptation and darkness pass, and he is again resurrected. When a people is overcome by passions, it is the duty of the authorities by severe means to sober it up and wake it up. And this must be done with decisive vividness, and it is healing, just as a thunderstorm is healing.

     “But this can only be done when the blindness is not deep and when he who is punished and woken up understands the righteousness of the punishment. Thus one peasant reproached a landowner, asking why he had not begun to struggle against the pogroms with a machine-gun. “Well, and what would have happened them?’ ‘We would have come to our senses! But now we are drunk and we burn and beat each other.’

     “But when the spiritual illness has penetrated even into the subconscious, then the application of force will seem to be violence, and not just retribution, then the sick people will not longer be capable of being healed. Then it will be in the state in which was the sinner whom the Apostle Paul ‘delivered to Satan for the tormenting of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved’ (I Corinthians 5.5).

     “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…[42]

     As St. John Maximovich put it: “Calculating malice did its work: it separated Russia from her tsar, and at that terrible moment in Pskov he remained abandoned… The terrible abandonment of the Tsar… But it was not he who abandoned Russia: Russia abandoned him, who loved Russia more than his own life. Seeing this, and in hope that his self-humiliation would calm the stormy passions of the people, his Majesty renounced the throne… They rejoiced who wanted the deposition of the Tsar. The rest were silent. There followed the arrest of his Majesty and the further developments were inevitable… His Majesty was killed, Russia was silent…” 

     These explanations of why the Tsar abdicated agree with each other and are essentially true. But we can go still further and deeper. Michael Nazarov argues that the Tsar, seeing that it was impossible to stem the tide of apostasy at that time, offered himself as a sacrifice for the enlightenment of future generations, in accordance with the revelation given to Metropolitan Macarius (see above): “His Majesty Nicholas II very profoundly felt the meaning of his service as tsar. His tragedy consisted in the fact that at the governmental level of the crisis fewer and fewer co-workers were appearing who would combine in themselves administrative abilities, spiritual discernment and devotion. ‘All around me are betrayal and cowardice and deception’, wrote his Majesty in his diary on the day of the abdication… Therefore, in the conditions of almost complete betrayal, his humble refusal to fight for power was dictated not only by a striving to avoid civil war, which would have weakened the country before the external enemy. This rejection of power was in some way similar to Christ’s refusal to fight for His life before His crucifixion – for the sake of the future salvation of men. Perhaps his Majesty Nicholas II, the most Orthodox of all the Romanovs, intuitively felt that there was already no other way for Russia to be saved – except the path of self-sacrifice for the enlightenment of descendants, hoping on the help and the will of God…”[43]

     From this point of view it was the will of God that the Tsar abdicate, even though it meant disaster for the Russian people, just as it was the will of God that Christ be crucified, even though it meant the destruction of the Jewish people. Hence the words of  Eldress Paraskeva (Pasha) of Sarov (+1915), who had foretold the Tsar’s destiny during the Sarov Days: “Your Majesty, descend from the throne yourself”.[44] On the one hand, it was wrong, contrary to the Basic Laws, and disastrous for Russia that the Tsar should abdicate. But on the other hand, it was right and inevitable. As 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…”[45]


     The Tsar said with complete truthfulness: “I have always protected, not the autocratic power, but Russia.” The trouble was: Russia without an autocratic ruler was bound to become, in the words of St. John of Kronstadt, “a stinking corpse”. And as events were to show only too clearly, there was nobody who could replace him as the ruler of Russia… 

     The revolution had not been taking place only in Petrograd. “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 [by telephone] to the bishop…”[46] 

     In such circumstances, the Duma and the Provisional Government, which always followed rather than led public opinion, could not be for the continuation of the Monarchy. “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 Grand Duke 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 had arrived. What would the Great Prince decide, who was then from a juridical point of view already the All-Russian Emperor?”[47]

     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 that 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.”[48]

     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’!”[49]

     Nevertheless, Tsar Michael had effectively given the people the final say in how they were to be ruled, thereby destroying the monarchy. “The talk was not,” writes M.A. Babkin, “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.”[50] Tsar Nicholas clearly saw what had happened, writing in his diary: “God knows who gave him the idea of signing such rot”.[51]

     Some have compared March, 1917 to the people’s election of the first Romanov tsar in 1613. At that time there was 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, 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 (and out of fear 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 abolished the Orthodox legitimizing principle of the Basic Laws’, so that these acts would have been ‘juridically non-existent’, says M.V. Zyzykin[52]… ‘Grand Duke 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 Grand Duke 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…”[53]

     We can see the confusion and searching of consciences it caused 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…”[54]

     Since Grand Duke 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. Moreover, they could with some reason argue that they were acting in obedience to the last manifestation of lawful, tsarist power in Russia… 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 the greatest persecution of the faith in the history of the Church.

     Tsar Michael was shot by the Bolsheviks in Perm in June, 1918… 

     But what about the other Romanovs? Could not any of them have claimed the throne after the abdication of Michael? 

     Robert Massie writes: “After Nicholas II’s sisters, nephews, and nieces, the tsar’s closest surviving relatives were the Vladimirovichi, then comprising his four first cousins, Grand Dukes Cyril, Boris, and Andrew and their sister, Grand Duchess Helen, all children of Nicholas’s eldest uncle, Grand Duke Vladimir. In normal times, the near-simultaneous deaths of a tsar, his son, and his brother, as happened in 1918, automatically would have promoted the eldest of these cousins, Cyril, who was forty-two in 1918, to the Imperial throne. In 1918, however, there was neither empire nor throne, and, consequently, nothing was automatic. Succession to the Russian throne followed the Salic law, meaning that the crown passed only to males, through males, until there were no more eligible males. When an emperor died and neither a son nor a brother was available, the eldest eligible male from the branch of the family closest to the deceased monarch would succeed. In this case, under the old laws, this was Cyril. After Cyril stood his two brothers, Boris and Andrew, and after them the only surviving male of the Pavlovich line, their first cousin Grand Duke Dimitri, the son of Nicholas II’s youngest uncle, Grand Duke Paul. Nicholas II’ six nephews, the sons of the tsar’s sister Xenia, were closer by blood than Cyril but were ineligible because the succession could not pass through a woman…”[55]

     However, there were powerful objections to Cyril’s candidacy. He had married a Lutheran and his first cousin, Victoria Melita, a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, who, moreover, had been married to and divorced from Tsaritsa Alexandra’s brother, Grand Duke Ernest of Hesse. By marrying a divorced and heterodox woman who was his cousin, he violated Basic Laws 183 and 185 as well as the Church canons. The Tsar exiled him from Russia, and then, in 1907, deprived him and his descendants of the right to inherit the throne in accordance with Basic Law 126.

     Although the Tsar later allowed him and wife to return, the couple plotted against him, and on March 1, even before the abdication, Cyril withdrew his Garde Equipage from guarding the Tsaritsa and her family at Tsarskoye Selo and went to the Duma to hail the revolution, sporting a red cockade. He recognized the revolution, renounced his rights to the Thone, and hoisted the red flag above his palace and onto his car…[56]In July, noting the anti-monarchist mood in Petrograd, he moved to nearby Finland, and only moved again to Switzerland in 1920, when it was clear that there was no hope of the restoration of the monarchy in the near future.

     Cyril emigrated to France, but was at first cautious about putting forward his claim to the throne. “The Dowager Empress Marie would not believe that her son and his family were dead and refused to attend any memorial service on their behalf. A succession proclamation by Cyril would have shocked and deeply offended the old woman. Further, there was another, not very willing pretender: Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich, former commander-in-chief of the Russian Army, was from the Nicholaevichi, a more distant branch of the Romanov tree, but, among Russians, he was far more respected and popular than Cyril. Nicholas Nicholaevich was forceful and Russia’s most famous soldier whereas Cyril was a naval captain, who, having had one ship sunk beneath him, refused to go to sea again. Nevertheless, when émigré Russians spoke to Grand Duke Nicholas about assuming the throne in exile, he refused, explaining tht he did not wish to shatter the hopes of the dowager empress. Besides, Nicholas agreed with Marie that if Nicholas II, his son, and his brother really were dead, the Russian people should be free to choose as their new tsar whatever Romanov – or whatever Russian – they wished.

     “In 1922, six years before the death of Marie and while the old soldier Nicholas Nicholaevich still had seven years to live, Cyril decided to wait no longer. He proclaimed himself first Curator of the Throne and then, in 1924, Tsar of All the Russias – although he announced that for everyday use he still should be addressed by the lesser title Grand Duke. He established a court around his small villa in the village of Saint-Briac in Brittany, issued manifestos, and distributed titles…”[57]

     His claim to be Tsar was recognized by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), first-hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, but not by Metropolitan Evlogy of Paris.

     As Evlogy wrote in his memoirs, he was in Karlovtsy in the autumn of 1922, when “I received a telegram: ‘At the request of Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, we ask you insistently to come immediately to Paris.’ I arrived… I was presented with a group of generals led by General Sakharov, and a group of dignitaries asked me to go and visit Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich in Saint-Briac so as to perform a Divine service for him and give him my blessing to assume the imperial throne. I refused…”[58]

     Most of the Romanov family living in exile also rejected Cyril’s claim… The other leading Romanovs were either killed or made their peace with the new regime. Thus the behavior of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich (“Nikolasha”) was, according to Nazarov, “unforgiveable: he didn’t move a finger to avert the plot that he knew was being prepared…, pushed Nicholas II to abdicate, and, having again been appointed by him Commander-in-Chief of the Army, swore to the plotters: ‘The new government already exists and there can be no changes. I will not permit any reaction in any form…’

     “In those days the other members of the Dynasty also forgot about their allegiance to the Tsar and welcomed his abdication. Many signed their own rejection of their rights to the Throne…: Grand Dukes Dmitri Konstantinovich, Gabriel Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich, George Mikhailovich and Nicholas Mikhailovich. The latter, following Cyril, also paid a visit of loyalty to the revolutionary Duma on March 1… In the press there appeared declarations by Grand Dukes Boris Vladimirovich, Alexander Mikhailovich, Sergius Mikhailovich and Prince Alexander Oldenburg concerning their ‘boundless support’ for the Provisional government…

     “The identical form of these rejections and declarations witness to the fact of a corresponding demand on the part of the new authorities: these were a kind of signature of loyalty to the revolution. (It is possible that this conceals one of the reasons for the monarchical apathy of these members of the Dynasty in emigration. Only ‘Cyril I’ felt not the slightest shame: neither for the plans of his mother ‘to destroy the empress’, not for his own appeal to the soldiers to go over to the side of the revolution…)

     “It goes without saying that in rebelling against his Majesty before the revolution, such members of the Dynasty did not intend to overthrow the monarchy: they would thereby have deprived themselves of privileges and income from their Appanages. They hoped to use the plotters in their own interests, for a court coup within the Dynasty, - but were cruelly deceived. The Provisional government immediately showed that even loyal Romanovs – ‘symbols of Tsarism’ – were not needed by the new authorities: Nicholas Nikolayevich was not confirmed in the post of Commander-in-Chief, and Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich found himself under house arrest in his own palace for ‘being slow to recognize the new order’… We have some reason to suppose that by their ‘signatures of loyalty’ and renunciations of their claims to the Throne the Grand Dukes bought freedom for themselves. Kerensky declared at the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies: ‘You have doubts about the fact that some members of the Royal Family have remained in freedom. But only those are in freedom who have protested with us against the old regime and the caprices of Tsarism.’

     “The Februarists from the beginning did not intend to give the Royal Family freedom. They were subjected to humiliating arrest in the palace of Tsarskoye Selo, and were restricted even in their relations with each other. And none of the previously active monarchists spoke out for them. True, many of them had already been arrested, the editors of their newspapers and their organizations had been repressed. But even more monarchist activists kept silent, while some even signed declarations of loyalty to the new government…”[59]


     Even among most monarchists, and even among the Romanovs themselves, the argument today is no longer over who should succeed to the autocracy, but rather who should become the constitutional monarch. This is both ironic and sad, for it implies that even if the Russian monarchy were restored now with the enthronement of one of the Romanovs, it would not be a true restoration, but a surrender to that liberal and emasculated view of monarchy which Tsar Nicholas and his predecessors and the Russian saints fought so hard against. For it is important to realize that the fall of the Romanov dynasty was not engineered in the first place by the Jewish Bolsheviks or American bankers, nor by the German General Staff. As we have seen, it was engineered and carried out by what Lebedev calls “the first echelon” of the revolution – the Mason-Cadets and Octobrists, such as Rodzyanko and Guchkov. Their creed was not revolution – or, at any rate, not the full-blooded revolution that aimed at regicide and the complete overthrow of the existing social order; for they had too much to lose from such an upheaval. Their ideal was the more moderate but thoroughly unRussian one of English constitutional monarchy.

    Indeed, with the exception of some real republicans such as the Trudovik Kerensky, the conspirators of February would probably have been content with simply stripping the Tsar of his autocratic powers and turning him into a constitutional monarch on the English model – provided he did not interfere with their own supreme power. They forced him to abdicate only when they saw that he would not play their game, but was determined to preserve the Autocracy – if not in his own person, then in the person of his appointed heir. But their shortsightedness, and their lack of understanding of the revolutionary process that they had initiated, meant that their rule was short-lived and served only as a transition from full Autocracy to the victory of the Bolsheviks.

     The Russian constitutionalists demanded of Tsar Nicholas that he give them a “responsible” government – that is, a government completely under their control. But the rule of Tsar Nicholas was already responsible in the highest degree – to God. For this is the fundamental difference between the Orthodox autocrat and the constitutional monarch, that the autocrat truly governs his people, whereas the constitutional monarch “reigns, but does not rule”, in the phrase of Adolphe Thiers. The first is responsible to God alone, but the latter, even if he claims to rule “by the Grace of God” and receives a Church coronation, in fact is in thrall to the people and fulfils their will rather than God’s. As St. John Maximovich writes, “the Russian sovereigns were never tsars by the will of the people, but always remained Autocrats by the Mercy of God. They were sovereigns in accordance with the dispensation of God, and not according to the ‘multimutinous’ will of man.”[60]And so we have three kinds of king: the Orthodox autocrat, who strives to fulfill the will of God alone, and is responsible to Him alone, being limited only by the Faith and Tradition of the people as represented by the Orthodox Church; the absolute monarch, such as the French Louis XIV or the English Henry VIII, who fulfills only his own will, is responsible to nobody, and is limited by nothing and nobody; and the constitutional monarch, who fulfills the will of the people, and can be ignored or deposed by them as they see fit.

     Monarchy by the Grace of God and monarchy by the will of the people are incompatible principles. The very first king appointed by God in the Old Testament, Saul, fell because he tried to combine them; he listened to the people, not God. Thus he spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, together with the best of his livestock, instead of killing them all, as God had commanded "because I listened to the voice of the people" (I Kings 15.20). In other words, he abdicated his God-given authority and became, spiritually speaking, a democrat, listening to the people rather than to God.

     The significance of the reign of Tsar Nicholas II lies in the fact that he demonstrated what a true Orthodox autocrat – as opposed to an absolutist despot or a constitutional monarch - really is. This knowledge had begun to fade in the minds of the people, and with its fading the monarchy itself had become weaker. But Tsar Nicholas restored the image to its full glory, and thereby preserved the possibility of the complete restoration of the autocracy in a future generation…

     Appearances can be deceptive. There is a famous photograph of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the English King George V standing together, looking as if they were twins (they were in fact cousins) and wearing almost identical uniforms. Surely, one would think, these were kings of a similar type, even brothers in royalty? After all, they called each other “Nicky” and “Georgie”, had very similar tastes, had ecumenical links (Nicky was godfather of Georgie’s son, the future Edward VIII, and their common grandmother, Queen Victoria, was invited to be godmother of Grand Duchess Olga[61]), and their empires were similar in their vastness and diversity (Nicholas was ruler of the greatest land empire in history, George – of the greatest sea power in history). Moreover, the two cousins never went to war with each other, but were allies in the First World War. They seem to have been genuinely fond of each other, and shared a mutual antipathy for their bombastic and warmongering “Cousin Willy” – Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. To crown it all, when Tsar Nicholas abdicated in 1917, Kerensky suggested that he take refuge with Cousin Georgie in England, a suggestion that the Royal Family did not reject - at first…

     But Cousin Georgie betrayed Cousin Nicky; in August, 1917 he withdrew his invitation for fear of a revolution in England. 

     As Roy Hattersley writes, in view of the failure of rescue attempts from within Russia, “the future of the Tsar and his family grew ever more precarious. It was the [British] Prime Minister who initiated the meeting with George V’s private secretary at which, for a second time, ‘it was generally agreed that the proposal we should receive the Emperor in this country… could not be refused’. When Lloyd George proposed that the King should place a house at the Romanovs’ disposal he was told that only Balmoral was available and that it was ‘not a suitable residence at this time of year’. But it transpired that the King had more substantial objections to the offer of asylum. He ‘begged’ (a remarkably unregal verb) the Foreign Secretary ‘to represent to the Prime Minister that, from all he hears and reads in the press, the residence in this country of the ex-Emperor and Empress would be strongly resented by the public and would undoubtedly compromise the position of the King and Queen’. It was the hereditary monarch, not the radical politician, who left the Russian royal family to the mercy of the Bolsheviks and execution in Ekaterinburg.”[62]

     The result was that, as Frances Welch writes, “eleven months later, the Tsar, the Tsarina and their five children were all murdered. But when the Tsar’s sister finally reached London in 1919, King George V brazenly blamed his Prime Minister for refusing a refuge to the Romanovs. Over dinner, he would regularly castigate Lloyd George as ‘that murderer’…”[63]

     Nor was this the first or only betrayal: in a deeper sense English constitutionalism betrayed Russian autocracy in February, 1917. For it was a band of constitutionalist Masons supported by the Grand Orient of France and the Great Lodge of England, that plotted the overthrow of the Tsar in the safe haven of the English embassy in St. Petersburg. (Surprising as it may seem in view of the Masons’ overt republicanism, they were patronized by the British monarchy; there is a photograph of King Edward VII, Georgie’s father, in the full regalia of a Grand Master…[64])

     And so it was constitutional monarchists who overthrew the Russian autocratic monarchy. The false kingship that was all show and no substance betrayed the true kingship that died in defence of the truth in poverty and humiliation. For Tsar Nicholas died in true imitation of the Christ the King. And with Him he could have said: “You say rightly that I am a king: for this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth!” (John 18.37).

     The Tsar’s attachment to the autocratic principle never wavered: as he said to Count Witte in 1904: “I will never, in any circumstances, agree to a representative form of government, for I consider it harmful for the people entrusted to me by God.”[65] And his choice was vindicated by his own conduct: no autocrat conducted himself with more genuine humility and love for his subjects, and a more profound feeling of responsibility before God. He was truly an autocrat, and not a tyrant. He did not sacrifice the people for himself, but himself for the people. The tragedy of Russia was that she was about to exchange the most truly Christian of monarchs for the most horrific of all tyrannies – all in the name of freedom!

     The tsar’s commitment to the autocratic principle was reinforced by the tsarina, who, as Hew Strachan writes, “despite being the granddaughter of a British queen, believed, according to [the British ambassador] Buchanan, that ‘autocracy was the only regime that could hold the Empire together’.

     “Writing after the war, Buchanan confessed that she might have been right. It was one thing for well-established liberal states to move in the direction of authoritarianism for the duration of the war; it was quite another for an authoritarian government to move towards liberalism which many hoped would last beyond the return to peace. Moreover, the strains the war had imposed on Russian society, and the expectations that those strains had generated, looked increasingly unlikely to be controlled by constitutional reform…”[66]

     The constitutionalists then as now criticize the Orthodox autocracy mainly on the grounds that it presented a system of absolute, uncontrolled power, and therefore of tyranny. They quote the saying of the historian Lord Acton: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. But this is and was a serious misunderstanding. The Russian autocracy was based on the anointing of the Church and on the faith of the people; and when it betrayed either – by disobeying the Church, or by trampling on the people’s faith, - it lost its legitimacy, as we see in the Time of Troubles, when the people rejected the false Dmitri. It was therefore limited, not absolute. But it was limited, not by parliament or any secular power, but by the teachings of the Orthodox Faith and Church, and as such must not be confused with the system of absolutist monarchy that we see in, for example, the French King Louis XIV, or the English King Henry VIII, who felt limited by nothing and nobody on earth.

     The Tsar could have refused to abdicate and started a civil war against those who sought to overthrow him. But this would have meant imposing his will in an absolutist manner on the majority of his people, whose faith was now no longer the faith of Tsarist Russia but that of the “enlightened” West. So, like Christ the King in Gethsemane, he told his friends to put up their swords, and surrendered himself into the hands of his enemies; “for this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22.53). He showed that the Orthodox Autocracy was not a form of western-style absolutism, whose right lies exclusively in its might, but something completely sui generis, whose right lies in its faithfulness to the truth of Christ. He refused to treat his power as if it were independent of or over 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; and if the people now renounced him and the Church, so be it - there was no longer any place for him in Russia.

     For these reasons Nicholas II was completely justified in his firm attachment to the autocratic principle. And his choice was vindicated by his own conduct: no autocrat conducted himself with more genuine humility and love for his subjects, and a more profound feeling of responsibility before God. He was truly an autocrat, and not a tyrant. He did not sacrifice the people for himself, but himself for the people. The tragedy of Russia was that she was about to exchange the most truly Christian of monarchs for the most horrific of all tyrannies – all in the name of freedom!

     IBut in what resides true freedom? The Anglophile liberals claimed that only a constitution can guarantee the freedom and equality of its citizens. However, the “freedom” of the liberals had little to do with spiritual freedom. In any case, England in 1914 was probably a less free and less equal society than Russia - the monstrously rich English factory-owners and aristocratic landlords had seen to it that the English workers’ lot remained as harsh as it had been when Marx and Engels first wrote about it in the 1840s. But in Russia in 1914 greatly increased prosperity, rapidly spreading education among all classes, liberal labour laws and a vast increase in a free, independent peasantry (especially in Siberia) were transforming the country. As regards freedom, it is a paradoxical but true fact that Russia in the last decades before the revolution was, as the Duma deputy Baron A.D. Meyendorff admitted, “the most democratic monarchy in the world”.[67]

     The idea that autocracy is necessarily inimical to freedom and equality was refuted by the monarchist Andozerskaya in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel, The Red Wheel: “Under a monarchy it is perfectly possible for both the freedom and the equality of citizens to flourish. First, a firm hereditary system delivers the country from destructive disturbances. Secondly, under a hereditary monarchy there is no periodic upheaval of elections, and political disputes in the country are weakened. Thirdly, republican elections lower the authority of the power, we are not obliged to respect it, but the power is forced to please us before the elections and serve us after them. But the monarch promised nothing in order to be elected. Fourthly, the monarch has the opportunity to weigh up things in an unbiased way. The monarchy is the spirit of national unity, but under a republic divisive competition is inevitable. Fifthly, the good and the strength of the monarch coincide with the good and the strength of the whole country, he is simply forced to defend the interests of the whole country if only in order to survive. Sixthly, for multi-national, variegated countries the monarch is the only bond and the personification of unity…”[68]

     If we compare the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917 with that of his godson, the British King Edward VIII in 1936, we immediately see the superiority, not only of the Tsar over the King personally, but also of Orthodox autocracy over constitutional monarchy generally. Edward VIII lived a debauched life, flirted with the Nazis, and then abdicated, not for the sake of the nation, but because he could not have both the throne and continued debauchery at the same time. He showed no respect for Church or faith, and perished saying: “What a wasted life!” While the abdication of Edward VIII placed the monarchy in grave danger, the abdication of Tsar Nicholas, by contrast, saved the autocracy for the future by abdicating and refusing to run away from death. 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. If the people and the Church did not want him, he would not impose himself on them, because his was truly a government for the people. He would not fight a ruinous civil war in order to preserve his power, because his power was not given to him to take up arms against the people. Instead he chose to die, and in dying he proclaimed the truth of Christ the King. He followed 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 fall of the Romanov dynasty so soon after Tsar Nicholas’ abdication, and the seizing of power by the Bolsheviks only a few months after that, proves the essential rightness of the Tsar’s struggle to preserve the autocracy and his refusal to succumb to pressures for a constitutional government. As in 1789, so in 1917, constitutional monarchy, being itself the product of a disobedient, anti-monarchical spirit, proved itself to be a feeble reed in the face of the revolution. The Tsar clung onto power for as long as he could, not out of personal ambition, but because he knew that he was literally irreplaceable. Or rather, he believed that the dynasty was irreplaceable, which is why he passed on is power, not to the Duma, but to his brother Michael. But the dynastic family, being itself corrupted by its disobedience and disloyalty to the Tsar (even Michael had disobeyed the Tsar in marrying Natalia Brassova), was unable to take up the burden that Tsar Nicholas had borne so bravely. They were not fit to bear that burden. And God did not allow them.

     And so not only the Tsar and his family, perished, but the whole of Russia…

     And not only Russia… It is striking how, with the fall of the autocracy in Russia, the structure of European monarchy, being built, not on the rock of true faith and the Grace of God, but on the porous sand of the “multimutinous will” of the people, began to collapse. For in 1917-18 the dynasties of all the defeated nations: Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria (temporarily) collapsed. And within a decade monarchy had more or less disappeared in several other nations, such as Turkey, Italy and Greece, while the British Empire was shaken by nationalist rebellions in Ireland, Egypt, Iraq and India. Monarchy survived in Serbia until the Second World War – probably thanks to the protection that the Serbs offered to the monarchist Russian Church in Exile.

     The first monarchy to go had to be Russia; for the one true monarchy had to be destroyed violently before the pseudo-monarchies could be peacefully put out to grass, reigning figuratively but not truly ruling over their subjects. The abortive revolution of 1905 had imposed a kind of constitution on the Tsar. But then he, by a courageous and subtle but always honourable administration of the new Duma, managed to keep the Masons at bay and the monarchy effectively in control until 1917. And even then he did not give them their “responsible government”, but abdicated in favour of another member of the dynasty. Thus the Russian autocracy went out with a bang, undefeated in war and defiantly resisting the traitors and oath-breakers who opposed it. The latter, however, went out with a whimper, ingloriously losing the war, and after only nine months’ rule fleeing in all directions (Kerensky fled in women’s clothes to Paris).

     The two royal abdications of March, 1917 brought to an end the 1600-year period of the Orthodox Christian Empire that began with 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.


February 21 / March 7, 2019.


[1]P.N. Milyukov, in Tatyana Groyan, Tsariu Nebesnomu i Zemnomu Vernij (Faithful to the Heavenly and Earthly King), Moscow, 1996, p. XCIV. Cf. Armis (a Duma delegate), “Skrytaia Byl’” (The Hidden Story), Prizyv’ (Summons), N 50, Spring, 1920; in F. Vinberg, Krestnij Put’ (The Way of the Cross), Munich, 1920, St. Petersburg, 1997, pp. 165-166.

[2]Paley, Souvenir de Russie, 1916-1919, p. 33.

[3]Baroness Sophia Bukstevden, Ventsenosnitsa Muchenitsa (The Crown-Bearing Martyr), Moscow, 2011, p. 388.

[4] S.S. Oldenburg, Tsarstovanvie Imperator Nikolaia ii(The Reign of Emperor Nicholas II), Belgrade, 1939, vol. II, p. 233.

[5] Yana 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.

[6] Oldenburg, op. cit., vol. II, p. 233.

[7] Kerensky, in Voprosy Istorii (Questions of History), 1990, N 10, p. 144. Kerensky’s real name was Aaron Kirbits (Voeikov, So Tsarem i Bez Tsaria (With and Without the Tsar), Moscow, 1995, p. 260).

[8] Tatyana Groyan, Tsariu Nebesnomu i Zemnomu Vernij (Faithful to the Heavenly and Earthly King), Moscow, 1996, pp. CXX-CXXI.

[9]Bukstevden, op. cit., p. 390.

[10] 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.)

[11] As General Voeikov wrote: “From February 25 the city’s public administration had begun to appoint its representatives to take part in the distribution of food products and to oversee the baking of bread. It became clear that in Petrograd at that time there were enough reserves of flour: in the warehouses of Kalashnikov Birzh were over 450,000 pounds of flour, so that fears about a lack of bread were completely unfounded” (op. cit., p. 161). Already in November, 1917 Prince Vladimir Mikhailovich Volkonsky, former vice-president of the Duma and assistant to the Minister of the Interior Protopopov had told Baroness Sophia Bukstevden that the administration of the transport of food was so bad that there could be hunger riots in the ciry (Bukstevden, op. cit., pp. 387-388). (V.M.).

[12]This telegram, writes I.P. Yakoby, “was very cleverly written. Its jerky, emotional phrases were bound to elicit in the Tsar increasing anxiety, the fear of responsibility and a desire to transfer this responsibility on him whose name was clearly insinuated – Rodzianko himself.

   “However the Duma president himself feared an open rift with legality and preferred to receive power from the hands of the Sovereign rather than ‘by the will of the people’” (Imperator Nikolaj II i Revoliutsia (Emperor Nicholas II and the Revolution), Moscow, 2010, p. 154)  (V.M.)

[13]At this point, writes Yakoby, “the Duma openly took the side of the rebellion” (op. cit., p. 155) (V.M).

[14]Michael arrived on the scene at 5 p.m. At 9 Rodzyanko asked him to become dictator. He refused. At 10.30 he telegraphed the Tsar proposing that he make Lvov prime minister. The Tsar refused, confirming Golitsyn as head of the civil administration (Sebastian Sebag Montefiore, The Romanovs, London: Virago, 2016, p. 619). (V.M.)

[15] Lebedev, Velikorossia (Great Russia), St. Petersburg, 1999, pp. 477-481.

[16] Montefiore, op. cit., p. 618.

[17] Yakoby, op. cit., pp. 159-160.

[18]Yakoby, op. cit., p. 166.

[19] “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.)

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

[21] “’One must accept the formula ‘the monarch reigns but the government rules’, explained Ruzsky. This formula, by Adolf Thiers, expressed the essence of constitutionalism.

     “This, explained the emperor, was incomprehensible to him, and he would need to be differently educated, born again. He could not take decisions against his conscience.” (Montefiore, op. cit., p. 619). The Tsar rejected the idea of a constitutional monarchy to the very end. But he was prepared to abdicate in favour of another true autocrat, his successor in the Russian autocracy. (V.M.)

[22] As we have seen, however, Guchkov claimed that the generals were not initiated into the plot, but acted independently. Sedova agrees with this assessment, as, it would seem, did Oldenburg. (V.M.)

[23]Montefiore, op. cit., pp. 619-620.

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

[25] Sedova, “Pochemu Gosudar’ ne mog ne otrech’sa?” (Why his Majesty could not avoid abdication), Nasha Strana, March 6, 2010, N 2887, p. 2.

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

[27] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 486-488; Voeikov, op. cit., 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.

[28] Nikolasha was blessed by Metropolitan Platon, Exarch of Georgia to ask the Tsar to abdicate. See N.K. Talberg, “K sorokaletiu pagubnogo evlogianskogo raskola” (On the Fortieth Anniversary of the Destructive Eulogian Schism”), Pravoslavnij Put’ (The Orthodox Way), Jordanville, 1966, p. 36.

[29] Apart from General Khan-Hussein, General Theodore Keller, who was later martyred, was also faithful, as were Adjutant-General Nilov and General Voejkov.

[30] Oldenburg, op. cit., pp. 641-642.

[31] 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.

[32] Katkov, Fevral’skaia Revoliutsia (The February Revolution), Paris: YMCA Press, 1974, p. 236.

[33] 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 abdicating, his Majesty at least retained the possibility of appealing to the people with his own last word” (in Oldenburg, op. cit., p. 253). (V.M.)

[34] Lebedev’s text has been slightly altered to include the whole text of the manifesto (V.M.). For more on the text of the manifesto, and proof that it was written by the Tsar himself, see “Manifest ob otrechenii i oktiabrskij perevorot: Kniaz’ Nikolai Davydovich Zhevakov” (1874-1939)”,

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

[36] Voeikov, op. cit., p. 190.

[37]Alferov, op. cit., p. 105.

[38] Farmborough, Nurse at the Russian Front. A Diary 1914-18, London: Book Club Associates, 1974, pp. 271-272. Alexeyev reported the Tsar’s last address to the army to Guchkov, now War Minister. Guchkov forbade the distribution of the speech…(Alferov, p. 108)

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

[40] Churchill, The World Crisis. 1916-18, vol. I, London, 1927, pp. 223-225. Churchill was a Mason, Master of “Rosemary” lodge no. 2851, since 1902. However, this did not prevent him from being an admirer of the Tsar, and a fierce anti-communist.

[41] As Lev Alexandrovich 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), St. Petersburg, 1992, pp. 127-129).

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

[43] Nazarov, Kto Naslednik Rossijskogo Prestola? (Who is the Heir of the Russian Throne?), Moscow, 1996, pp. 72-73. Italics mine (V.M.).

[44]N. Gubanov (ed.), Nikolai II-ij i Novie Mucheniki, St. Petersburg, 2000, p. 70.

[46] Lebedev, op. cit., p. 489.

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

[48] Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, London: Arrow, 1992, p. 173. According to Montefiore, “the ministers tried to intimidate Michael into abdicating. He asked if they could guarantee his safety. ‘I had to answer in the negative,’ said Rodzianko, but Pavel Milyukov, the foreign minister, argued that this ‘frail craft’ – the Provisional Government – would sin in ‘the ocean of national disorder’ without the raft of the monarchy. Kerensky, the only one who could speak for the Soviet, disagreed, threatening chaos: ‘I can’t answer for Your Highness’s life.’

     “Princess Putiatina invited them all for lunch, sitting between the emperor and the prime minister. After a day of negotiations, Michael signed his abdication: ‘I have taken a firm decision to assume the Supreme Power only if such be the will of our great people by universal suffrage through its representatives to the Constituent Assembly.’ Next day, he sent a not to his wife Natasha: ‘Awfully busy and extremely exhausted. Will tell you many interesting things.’ Among these interesting things, he had been emperor of Russia for a day – and after 304 years the Romanovs had fallen.” (The Romanovs, p. 623).

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

[50] 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”),, p. 3.

[51] Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, p. 172. It has been argued that Tsar Nicholas had also given a certain impulse towards the democratic anarchy when he declared in his manifesto: “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.” The principles established by the State Duma were, of course, democratic, not monarchical. And on September 15, 1917, Kerensky even declared, in defiance of the whole aim of the Constituent Assembly as defined by Tsar Michael in his manifesto, that Russia was now a republic… But perhaps the Tsar meant, not a Constituent Assembly, but a Zemsky Sobor, of the kind that brought Tsar Michael Romanov to the throne in 1613…

[52] Zyzykin, Tsarskaia Vlast’, Sophia, 1924. (V.M.)

[53] Nazarov, op. cit., p. 68.

[54] Groyan, op. cit., pp. 122, 123.

[55] Massie, The Romanovs: The Final Chapter, London: Arrow, 1995, p.261.

[56] Massie, op. cit., pp. 267-269. For a detailed assessment, and rejection, of the claims of Cyril and his descendants, see Michael Nazarov, Kto Naslednik Rossijskogo Prestola? (Who is the Heir of the Russian Throne?), Moscow, 1996.

[57] Massie, op. cit., pp. 261-262.

[58]Evlogy, Puti moej zhizni (The Paths of My Life), Paris: YMCA Press, 1947, p. 604.

[59] Nazarov, op. cit., pp. 69-71.

[60] St. John Maximovich, Proiskhozhdenie Zakona o Prestolonasledii v Rossii (The Origin of the Law of Succession in Russia), quoted in “Nasledstvennost’ ili Vybory?” (“Heredity or Elections?”), Svecha Pokaiania (Candle of Repentance), N 4, February, 2000, p. 12. The phrase “multimutinous” is that of Tsar Ivan the Terrible.

[61] Miranda Carter, The Three Emperors, London: Penguin, 2011, p. 177.

[62] Roy Hattersley, The Great Outsider: David Lloyd George, London: Abacus, 2010, p. 472.

[63]Welch, “A Last Fraught Encounter”, The Oldie, N 325, August, 2015, p. 26.

[64] See the photo on the back cover of Jasper Ridley, The Freemasons, London: Constable, 1999.

[65] Nicholas II, in Fomin & Fomina, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 376.

[66] Strachan, The First World War, London: Pocket Books, 2006, pp. 234-235.

[67] Lebedev, op. cit., p. 405.

[68] Solzhenitsyn, The Red Wheel, “October, 1916”, uzel 2, Paris: YMCA Press, pp. 401-408.

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