The Second Patriotic War - An Alternate Russia TL

Is the TL good so far?

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    31
A Nicholas who is aware to the needs of reformation?

As above, now you have my attention.

I have the sudden need to reread my copy of Massie's "Nicky et Alix"...
Reforms had been happening all the time even during the reign of AIII and they did not stop during the reign of NII, some of them quite substantial. So it is a question which reforms rather then “reform or no reform, this is the question”. 😂 Social (liberal) reforms as a default for “reforms” do not work well within framework of the Russian history because the acknowledged “reformers” like PI and CII turned serfdom into slavery while the ill-reputed reactionary, Paul I, was the 1st monarch who extended loyalty oath to the serfs, thus officially making them subjects of the empire (underprivileged but nonetheless).

By the time in question the social reforms proved to be a resounding failure and in this TL the record is much worse because not only AII, who was neglecting his security, but also AIII who made very good security arrangements, had been assassinated. Taking into an account their different political views, a logical conclusion would be that the terrorists are going against a monarch no matter what. How from that experience the next monarch can jump to a conclusion that what is needed is more liberalism is not quite clear to me. One obvious conclusion would be that existing security system (including legalistic aspect) is still not adequate for the task and needs a comprehensive upgrade. In practical terms this means:
(a) Dramatic expansion of the security apparatus, especially the (almost non-existing) branches dealing with the political crimes.
(b) Issuing the new laws seriously expanding rights of these organizations in the areas of spying, arresting and interrogation (basically, creating some early equivalent of GPU).
(b) Changing the penalties for political crimes: making the political convicts serving the sentence as the common criminals (aka, making them “eligible” for hard labor and physical punishment and placing them together with the common criminals, no comfortable exiles with the expenses paid by the government). The violent political crimes has to be tried by the special tribunals, not by jury, with a death penalty being on a table.
(c) Make non-reporting the known revolutionary conspiracy a crime. This surely would produce a terrible outcry among the educated classes.
(d) Improve security measures for the imperial family by creating specially trained units. The Guards were not good for anything of the kind - there would be a need for specially trained professional.
(e) Establish professional clandestine operations for tracking and exterminating the revolutionaries hiding abroad (a very delicate activity).

How all of the above (and probably much more) can go together with more liberal agenda I can’t figure out.

A popular idea that creation of an elected legislative organ is going to solve all problems is not backed by any evidence. After 1905 the political terrorism kept flourishing, the “educated classes” remained permanently unhappy, the universities had been infested by the “progressives” who regularly were interrupting the learning process by manifestations and even “stinky bombs”, Duma proved to be extremely ineffective both due to a pure incompetence of most of its members and because out of principle it was resisting any meaningful action of a government (like Stolypin reform). There was some progress in the labor laws but this was just a logical extension of the fundamental package adopted during the reign of AIII. In the military area Duma expanded already insane budgeting for a naval buildup at the expense of army. So, by itself constitution did not solve any of the fundamental problems.

Now, as far as the “court” is involved, the problem was not it being the snakes pit (and it is not like Witte was a bleeding heart liberal) but plain and simple shortage of money. The Grand Dukes and Duchesses had been entitled to certain level of income that was coming from the estates of the imperial family. The problem was that, even after AIII tightened rules of eligibility and drastically cut expenses of the imperial household, the available income was not enough for providing life style fitting their status. Situation was so bad that widowed empress Maria Fedorovna had been using her yacht for sneaking expensive delicacies bypassing the customs. As a result, the Grand Dukes had to serve and the older members of the family had been holding high positions in the army and navy (admiral-general, commander of the Guards, inspector of artillery, etc.). Some of these positions, like admiral-general (person in charge of all naval development), provided a vast opportunity for getting massive bribes or simply misusing the funds (a member of the imperial family could not be put on trial) and of course none of these persons would give up their position easily (NII managed to get rid of two of his uncles only after the RJW and fiasco of the “bloody Sunday”). If not an army, then it was a high administrative position like governor-general of Moscow (this uncle had been killed by the revolutionaries). Only few of them, like Alexander Mikhailovich, had been truly competent and useful people. Grand Duke NN was considered the main military specialist in the family and only wwi demonstrated his shortcomings. But what was even worse, he had been married to Princess Stana of Montenegro and “Montenegrian gang” had a considerable influence on Alix.

Now, what could be done about them is a very big question. Of course, they could not be just summarily executed. They could not be left without a suitable income because this would ruin prestige of the imperial Russia. If the senior generation is removed from their positions, NII would have to somehow compensate their losses from the already inadequate incomes from family properties. There was, in theory, a possibility to increase income from the imperial estates but this was not done to avoid criticism about preferential treatment (IIRC, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich provided details in his memoirs). Small wonder that the get rich fast schemas like Bezobrazov affair got. support among the imperial family.

BTW, I’m not sure that Witte would be such a great advisor on the court-related issues: he was not making his career at the court and hardly had in-depth knowledge of its intrigues.
 
Oh, I want to note one thing, AIII died like he did OTL, of a kidney disease. Nicholas’ dream where he was shot, in the kidney no less, was only a bit of foreshadowing of his death to come.

but as always, I do love the thoughtful discussion
 
Oh, I want to note one thing, AIII died like he did OTL, of a kidney disease. Nicholas’ dream where he was shot, in the kidney no less, was only a bit of foreshadowing of his death to come.

but as always, I do love the thoughtful discussion
This of course explains why he said that his father’s death was an act of God. It also drastically improves the relevant statistics and may prevent NII from considering conversion of Russia into an early version of the SU: what would be looking as at least partially justified set of actions after 2 regicides definitely would look excessive if AIII died from the natural causes. However, don’t forget that Witte was one of the leaders of the (already defunct but nonetheless) Священная Дружина and while he was definitely an outstanding reformer, he was not a social reformer (at least not by choice) so it would be unlikely to expect from him push toward a serious liberalization (*). Perhaps something that proved its usefulness, like expanding the rights and functions of zemstvo (proved to be useful during famine of 1891-92.

One of the fundamental problems which NII faced (and dud not manage to handle effectively) was finding a balance between necessary degree of a liberalization and strengthening government’s position vs. the disruptive revolutionary elements. The technical problem in finding that balance was in a general mindset of the reasonably “liberal” people. On one hand, what they really wanted was an absence (or at least minimization) of a censorship, an extended functionality of the local elective organs and limitation of what they considered as an excessive intervention of the police and government in general in everyday life (which somehow should be accompanied by law and order and other functions usually associated with a strong government). OTOH, mostly due to the existing tradition, they had been supportive/sympathetic of the violent revolutionary activities and maintained a generally negative attitude toward the government. In OTL this balance was not found but it was also clear that the unilateral concessions from the government only create a greater havoc (see the reign of AII).

One of the possible approaches to solving this problem was recommended (as a joke) by A.K.Tolstoy in a poem “In Joyful month of May”: “to give state awards to the leaders of the lefties”. Of course, not literally and not to the extremists but courting of the “reasonable left” could be quite productive. For example, one of the liberal members of the State Council (rector of one of the universities) proposed a comprehensive course of actions to deal with the disturbances in the universities. His proposal was not accepted by the Ministry of Education (and disturbances continued) but it was (a) much more draconian than government’s measures and (b) being a specialist on the subject, he proposed a very effective solution (**). AII was putting the liberals on high positions but they were mostly “classic” Russian liberals: high placed people (like his brother) with the good intentions but a limited exposure to the realities of life. The result was a complete disaster in pretty much all aspects of life. AIII was a logical reaction to this failure but, while being a conservative (or a reactionary) he allowed meaningful reforms in the area of economics (and even social as his labor laws). The same goes for Witte: he was not a liberal but the practical needs led him into expanding professional education, etc.

In OTL reign of NII is associated with a number of major reforms but he did not have any consistent line of behavior and as a result managed to piss off both the right and the left. The Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich wrote that he had two options: either maintain himself as an absolute (within existing legislative framework) monarch or to go all the way to extending the constitution and becoming just a nominal head of state. NII chose a middle course and results are well-known. IMO, both options could work but the first one would require alt-NII who is ready, as his father, to make governing his main interest and occupation, not just something he was doing because he had to (as in OTL). The second option, if implemented from the start of his reign, would take him off the hook in the terms of responsibility for the following idiocies of the elected governments (taking into the account available “cadres”, it is probably reasonable to assume that the OTL mistakes would be nothing comparing to those of ATL).


________
(*) Contrary to the popular legend, AII had no intention to introduce “parliamentarism” in Russian Empire and a famous project of Loris-Melikov, by his own assurance, had nothing to do with it: it was a proposal to add to the State Council pre-screened elected members who were acknowledged specialists in some areas. This was implemented as a part of the reform of 1905 (everybody keeps concentrating on Duma completely ignoring this highest legislative body of the empire).

(**) He proposed to close universities for a year. (a) The students who were there for studying would be pissed off at their revolutionary friends because their graduation will be postponed (and they’d have to somehow survive for a year), (b) most of the male students would be “eligible” for the conscription and few years of service in the ranks (without a graduation they would not be eligible to a privileged status of вольноопределяющийся) would cool tge, down, (c) the professors had been paid based upon the number of people who attended their course and excessive sympathy to the “revolutionary“ students would hit them in a pocket . As you can see, a pissed off liberal can be much more repressive than a conservative bureaucrat from Ministry of Education. 😂
 
Imma try and get an update out later today. I planned on doing an update every Wednesday and Saturday or so. But clearly that didn’t work out.
 
Chapter 2 - The Eagle's Crown and the Duke's Blood (1895-1896)
Chapter 2 - The Eagle’s Crown, and a Duke’s Blood

Kodinka (2).png

Tsar Nicholas II's Coronation

“The Tsar is young, eager, and in the shadow of his uncle. Hopefully he breaks this shell, especially after our discussion a few nights ago”
- Sergei Witte​


Upon his Accession to the Throne, Tsar Nicholas was presented with a document, a letter, expressing reforms the zemstvos’ most liberal members desired. He was to make a speech on it, one that would define his reign in the eyes of the public. He had to be careful, his words had to be chosen carefully.

“It has come to my knowledge that during the last months there have been heard in some assemblies of the zemstvos the voices of those who have indulged in a dream that the zemstvos be called upon to participate in the government of the country. I want everyone to know that I have heard you, and I will consider such a proposal. But, I must also remind everyone of the rights and powers the zemstvos held upon their creation, powers that have been restricted and removed through the persecution of these groups. With this in mind, this persecution ends today, and these rights and powers are to be restored”

As Nicholas left the room, Sandro, the nickname of Grand Duke Alexander, caught up with Nicholas only a few minutes later. “Pray explaining that decision, your imperial majesty?”

“Well Sandro, Thee zemstvos asked for far too much, but through my consideration of such reforms, even if I reject them, and I will, I will be seen as reasonable, not an enemy, perhaps even sympathetic because of the restoration of rights. And it’ll go well, you saw how they dealt with the famine, speaking of which…” The Tsar walked away, never finishing the sentence. But, news would travel of Interior Minister Ivan Durnovo’s promotion to Chairman of Council of Ministers and Ivan Goremykin would take his place as Minister of the Interior. There would be more changes within the Russian Government following Durnovo's promotion, with Iosif Romeiko-Gurko removed from the position of Governor-General of the Kingdom of Poland and Lobanov-Rostovsky appointed as Minister of Internal Affairs.

Within the next months, Nicholas would engage in the first international act of his reign, the Triple Intervention against Japan. Japan’s Victory in the Sino-Japanese War had been a shock, and its acquisition of the Liaodong Peninsula, and Port Arthur threatened Russia’s interests in the region. And so Nicholas set himself in motion, discussing with the French and German leadership a joint intervention. The German government wanted Russia to look to the east, away from itself, they also wanted territory in China and elsewhere, and hoped that goodwill with the Russian government would elicit support for that. The French, wanting to prevent the Russian government from getting too friendly with the German state, would also join in, as obliged by the Franco-Russian Alliance.

The Japanese on the other hand, were not in agreement with such an intervention, mainly because the intervention was directed against them. They attempted to enlist British and American support, that support would never come, and the Three powers had a combined might of 38 warships, compared to Japan’s 31, and nearly double Japan’s naval displacement. In the end, Japan would relent, and the Prime Minister, Itō Hirobumi, would announce the withdrawal of troops that May. In return for this, additional reparations would be placed upon the Chinese government, for an additional cost of 30 Million Kuping Tael.

1896
Khodynka, Moscow
Coronation Day, Nicholas was to be crowned, and the Peasants, the Russian people, would be granted many gifts for attendance. Half-pound of sausage, pound of bread, sweets and even commemorative mugs. It was a peasants delight. Nicholas’ Uncle, Grand Duke Sergei, and his Brother-in-law, Grand Duke Alexander who was called by family as Sandro, would be tasked with the festivities.

The field chosen was in a state of disrepair for it was used as a source of sand and dirt and had, because of this, been left crisscrossed with ditches. But despite Sergei’s apathy towards fixing the field, Sandro, would order it to be fixed and prepared for the celebration. By the time of the Coronation, it wasn't up to Alexander’s liking, but he would find satisfaction in getting Sergei to relent in some of his ideas for the festival. More Cossack units would be placed for crowd control, and they expected roughly 450,000 to 500,000 people to arrive, The Cossacks could handle that. However far more would arrive, 800K peasants in fact, would arrive for the Tsar’s Coronation.

The Vendors, stressed and scared, would begin throwing the goods into the crowds, as they became more and more excited, or to some, agitated. Some parts of the crowd became more and more chaotic, and the Tsar was completely unaware. People would begin to fall over themselves, they would trip, and be trampled, Cossacks would arrive to quell the crowds, and the situation calmed itself, through the use of threat of force and firehoses, but it did calm down. The Rowdy crowds would be kept under control for the rest of the day.

Later, as the Tsar prepared to enter the field, his uncle would make him aware of the incident.

“Your Imperial Majesty, there had been an incident” said the Grand Duke.

“What kind of incident?” said the Tsar.

“People have died, I-”

“How many are dead? No, How many people came?”

“I don’t know the numbers just yet, your imperial majesty, but it was more than we expected.”

"Damnit, This is meant to be a day of celebration, not one of mourning. I am going to cancel the celebrations."

"I would advise against that, your Imperial Majesty"

"How many people died?”

"It can still be a day of celebration"

"No, How many people died.”

“A little less than a hundred. Many more injured”

Nicholas wiped his brow, in relief, it wasn’t as bad as he thought.

“Where are they hospitalized?”

After hearing the answer, Nicholas would order the celebrations cancelled, despite Grand Duke Sergei’s disagreements with such an idea, as the Duke thought that such a historic event couldn’t be interrupted like this. Nicholas’ attendance to a Ball held by the French Ambassador would not go as planned. Instead, he would visit the Hospitals where the Peasants were recovering, personally talk to as many as he could that day, and if he could meet all of them, he would return the next day to do so.

Nicholas’ actions invoked praise from some, apathy from others who thought that this was the only course of action a tsar could take, and anger from those who felt that despite his actions, the deaths of 89 people laid on his hands. On the other hand, the governor-general of Moscow, Grand Duke Sergei, was blasted by the people in private. And so, despite the tragic nature of such an event, The Tsar and his reputation amongst the people emerged relatively unscathed.
 
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I have read somewhere, khodynka tragedy brought a lot of bad luck to Tsar family. Two last war added more bad luck and end of Romanov Tsardom.
 
Chapter 2 - The Eagle’s Crown, and a Duke’s Blood

View attachment 633302
Tsar Nicholas II's Coronation

“The Tsar is young, eager, and in the shadow of his uncle. Hopefully he breaks this shell, especially after our discussion a few nights ago”
- Sergei Witte​


Upon his Accession to the Throne, Tsar Nicholas was presented with a document, a letter, expressing reforms the zemstvos’ most liberal members desired. He was to make a speech on it, one that would define his reign in the eyes of the public. He had to be careful, his words had to be chosen carefully.

“It has come to my knowledge that during the last months there have been heard in some assemblies of the zemstvos the voices of those who have indulged in a dream that the zemstvos be called upon to participate in the government of the country. I want everyone to know that I have heard you, and I will consider such a proposal. But, I must also remind everyone of the rights and powers the zemstvos held upon their creation, powers that have been restricted and removed through the persecution of these groups. With this in mind, this persecution ends today, and these rights and powers are to be restored”

As Nicholas left the room, Sandro, the nickname of Grand Duke Alexander, caught up with Nicholas only a few minutes later. “Pray explaining that decision, your imperial majesty?”

“Well Sandro, Thee zemstvos asked for far too much, but through my consideration of such reforms, even if I reject them, and I will, I will be seen as reasonable, not an enemy, perhaps even sympathetic because of the restoration of rights. And it’ll go well, you saw how they dealt with the famine, speaking of which…” The Tsar walked away, never finishing the sentence. But, news would travel of Interior Minister Ivan Durnovo’s promotion to Chairman of Council of Ministers and Ivan Goremykin would take his place as Minister of the Interior. There would be more changes within the Russian Government following Durnovo's promotion, with Iosif Romeiko-Gurko removed from the position of Governor-General of the Kingdom of Poland and Lobanov-Rostovsky appointed as Minister of Internal Affairs.

Within the next months, Nicholas would engage in the first international act of his reign, the Triple Intervention against Japan. Japan’s Victory in the Sino-Japanese War had been a shock, and its acquisition of the Liaodong Peninsula, and Port Arthur threatened Russia’s interests in the region. And so Nicholas set himself in motion, discussing with the French and German leadership a joint intervention. The German government wanted Russia to look to the east, away from itself, they also wanted territory in China and elsewhere, and hoped that goodwill with the Russian government would elicit support for that. The French, wanting to prevent the Russian government from getting too friendly with the German state, would also join in, as obliged by the Franco-Russian Alliance.

The Japanese on the other hand, were not in agreement with such an intervention, mainly because the intervention was directed against them. They attempted to enlist British and American support, that support would never come, and the Three powers had a combined might of 38 warships, compared to Japan’s 31, and nearly double Japan’s naval displacement. In the end, Japan would relent, and the Prime Minister, Itō Hirobumi, would announce the withdrawal of troops that May. In return for this, additional reparations would be placed upon the Chinese government, for an additional cost of 30 Million Kuping Tael.

1896
Khodynka, Moscow
Coronation Day, Nicholas was to be crowned, and the Peasants, the Russian people, would be granted many gifts for attendance. Half-pound of bread, sausage, sweets and even commemorative mugs. It was a peasants delight. Nicholas’ Uncle, Grand Duke Sergei, and his Brother-in-law, Grand Duke Alexander who was called by family as Sandro, would be tasked with the festivities.

The field chosen was in a state of disrepair for it was used for military exercises and had, because of these exercises, been left crisscrossed with ditches. But despite Sergei’s apathy towards fixing the field, Sandro, would order it to be fixed and prepared for the celebration. By the time of the Coronation, it wasn't up to Alexander’s liking, but he would find satisfaction in getting Sergei to relent in some of his ideas for the festival. More Cossack units would be placed for crowd control, and they expected roughly 450,000 to 500,000 people to arrive, The Cossacks could handle that. However far more would arrive, 800K peasants in fact, would arrive for the Tsar’s Coronation.

The Vendors, stressed and scared, would begin throwing the goods into the crowds, as they became more and more excited, or to some, agitated. Some parts of the crowd became more and more chaotic, and the Tsar was completely unaware. People would begin to fall over themselves, they would trip, and be trampled, Cossacks would arrive to quell the crowds, and the situation calmed itself, through the use of threat of force, but it did calm down. The Rowdy crowds would be kept under control for the rest of the day.

Later, as the Tsar prepared to enter the field, his uncle would make him aware of the incident.

“Your Imperial Majesty, there had been an incident” said the Grand Duke.

“What kind of incident?” said the Tsar.

“People have died, I-”

“How many are dead? No, How many people came?”

“I don’t know the numbers just yet, your imperial majesty, but it was more than we expected.”

"Damnit, This is meant to be a day of celebration, not one of mourning. I am going to cancel the celebrations."

"I would advise against that, your Imperial Majesty"

"How many people died?”

"It can still be a day of celebration"

"No, How many people died.”

“A little less than a hundred. Many more injured”

Nicholas wiped his brow, in relief, it wasn’t as bad as he thought.

“Where are they hospitalized?”

After hearing the answer, Nicholas would order the celebrations cancelled, despite Grand Duke Sergei’s disagreements with such an idea, as the Duke thought that such a historic event couldn’t be interrupted like this. Nicholas’ attendance to a Ball held by the French Ambassador would not go as planned. Instead, he would visit the Hospitals where the Peasants were recovering, personally talk to as many as he could that day, and if he could meet all of them, he would return the next day to do so.

Nicholas’ actions invoked praise from some, apathy from others who thought that this was the only course of action a tsar could take, and anger from those who felt that despite his actions, the deaths of 89 people laid on his hands. On the other hand, the governor-general of Moscow, Grand Duke Sergei, was blasted by the people in private. And so, despite the tragic nature of such an event, The Tsar and his reputation amongst the people emerged relatively unscathed.
One AH writer came with an idea of using the fire hoses to control crowd on Khodynka. Actually, the Cossacks may not be adequate for the task taking into an account size of a crowd (approximately 500,000). The ditches were leftovers of the exhibition pavilions which had been taken out and shipped to Novgorod exhibition. Plus, the area had been routinely used as a source of sand and clay (more holes and ditches). It was used as a parade ground well before the event and, actually, for this purpose it had to be flat. Now, if you don’t mind a little bit of a nitpicking, the presents included a half pound of sausage, pound of bread (сайка), etc. 😜

Seriously, an idea of NII rescheduling the coronation events would be a great PR. Actually, if he removed Grand Duke Sergei from his position of governor-general of Moscow it would be even better but the obvious question is what to do with that a—hole afterwards.
 
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Chapter 3 - Where Shall The Bear Go? (1897- 1900)
1897 - Chapter 3 - Where Shall The Bear Go?

bear (1).png

Russia’s Foreign Policy, Nicholas needed to decide what his goals for Russia externally were. Bismarck’s Concert of Europe was dying, a network of alliances had grown, Germany had developed a Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy. And the French held their alliance with his nation, Russia. The only great power currently outside of this equation was Britain.

Nicholas thought long about his goals and aspirations for the Empire, he saw the need for the empire to reform, economically if not governmentally. He had already begun the process with his change of policy with the zemstvos. But the foreign affairs of the nation, that would be a tricky devil. Nicholas wanted a strong Russia, in all ways. He wanted to expand Russia’s influence in the east, he knew that much, but the true question in his mind was how far he would go, was the far east destined to be Russia’s domain.

Nicholas didn’t believe so, Russia was, at the end of the day, a European power. Europe was where Russian influence would one day grow. But as long as the concert of Europe stood, stood sickly but it still stood, it would be unlikely as any route of expanding power there meant conflict with a great power. Russia for the time being, would have to choose its battles in Europe, and focus on the east for the meantime, Nicholas finally decided.

What was good for Nicholas however, was that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had died recently, and a replacement was needed. Nicholas would eventually settle on Mikhail Nikolaevich Muravyov for this role. As that concluded, Nicholas left to meet with his Finance Minister, his old friend and ally, Witte.

Witte had begun a monetary reform upon Nicholas’ ascension to the throne, transferring Russia to the Gold Standard, in order to increase investment from foreigners. Now, The Russian State Bank held nearly as much gold as current outstanding banknotes. This was helping the Russian currency, and in turn with other economic practices put in place by his father and Witte, the Russian economy was industrializing. However, this industrialization brought with it several issues, mainly, the rights of the workers.

By the middle of the year, a law would be passed to limit working hours to 11.5 hours a day, with an increase of inspections of the factories. Nicholas was also worried about the state of the peasantry in his nation, Whilst his Grandfather ended Serfdom on paper, in reality, serfdom remained, and the reparations the peasants had to pay enforced it. Nicholas understood this to some degree, and he knew that it was holding Russia back. Under Nicholas’ orders, these reparations would be lessened to 3/4th of what remained. This left the thought prevailing throughout the nation, if Nicholas intended to do more at a later time, giving great hopes for the peasantry of the nation, and great worry to the Russian nobility.

Several Evenings later, Nicholas would find great joy, for the Tsarina had birthed another child, and while yes, he was happy about the whole affair, the unfortunate part of it was that this child was a daughter, and thus not an heir. Two girls, two daughters, zero heirs. It frustrated the Russian people, their last tsar had died young, “could this tsar not do the same?” They thought. It was an understandable fear they held. But, The Tsar could do nothing about it, except pray for a son, an heir. As Nicholas looked out his window that evening, watching the city slumber, 14 hundred miles away, a young man would have his final slumber.



Veneko (1) (1).png

St. Nicholas Monastery - Verkhoturye, Russia



The young man, 28 years of age, had come from a Siberian village on a pilgrimage, and had toured the St. Nicholas Monastery, yet he was not a monk. He had stayed in the village for several months, been humbled by the elder there, and had become a changed man, he was transformed having becoming a religious man, whether he was a better man remain up for debate. Yet it was all for naught it seem, as another man, desperate in all manners of the word, brandished a knife at the pilgrim, hoping to gain something the pilgrim had not. And this interaction would leave the pilgrim with the knife in his chest, and within minutes, the pilgrim would close his eyes for the final time.

The Pilgrim’s wife and family would not hear of the news for weeks, but in the end, they would learn that their husband and father, a pilgrim by the name of Grigory Rasputin, was dead.


1898

Nicholas handed a letter to his Minister of Foreign affairs, he said nothing, handed him the letter, and sent him on his way. There were bigger thoughts in his mind, That being of Official Nationality, Pravoslávie, samoderzhávie, naródnost, Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality. The Concept and Doctrine was introduced by Nicholas I, revived by his father. And with that, specifically “Nationality”, came Russification. Nicholas wasn’t too opposed to it, Russia was meant to be Russian, he thought. But Russification had brought anger from many. Pan-Slavism however, had increasing become a popular school of thought, one Nicholas partook in himself. Perhaps this political doctrine could be introduced in a reform of his father’s policy, Nicholas thought.

A Reorientation of Nationality, away from that of the concept that Russia was built and founded by the Russian people, which had lend itself to support of russification. Nicholas theorized that the modern empire was founded by the Slavic people, with the Russians as first among equals. The Official change in policy, would be a matter of a few words, and a few orders. The meaning of Nationality, in terms of this policy would switch from “recognition of the state-founding role on the Russian nationality, and equal citizen rights for all other peoples inhabiting Russia ” to “recognition of the state-founding role on the Slavic people, and equal citizen rights for all other peoples inhabiting Russia” Alongside this, Nicholas would end the russification policy in the Baltics started by his father, seeing the Baltic Germans as vital allies to the Russian Regime within the nation, and seeing no need to antagonize them. Russification, because of this, would ramp down considerably in several areas, such as the Baltics or the polish territories. More indirect means being taken across the board, with some policies, such as the promotion of the Cyrillic alphabet would stay of course.

The Letter, Nicholas had handed off, nearly 30 minutes ago, would have even larger ramifications. Nicholas’s foreign minister would send a message from the Russian government to all representatives of foreign powers that evening. The message listed several issues plaguing the world, and would go on to state “this is now the highest duty for all States. Filled with this feeling, the sovereign emperor to command me deigned to appeal to the Governments of states, whose representatives are accredited at the Imperial Court, with a proposal to convene a conference in the form of discussing this important task”

These messages would result in what would be known as the Hague Conference, set to happen in 1899, and as it just so happened, it was set to happen on the Tsar’s birthday that year, the 18th of May.

1899

At this Conference, which all of the great powers as well as multiple smaller powers attended, several things were agreed upon, among these things would be the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, what the rules of war on land and sea were to be, the manner in which explosives could be dropped from the sky, which was not at all according to the statute which all except the US and the UK signed, and the type of bullets that could be used.

Nearly a month to the day later, Nicholas would bear witness to the birth of his third child, once again a girl, her name was to be Maria. And once again, he was happy, but the lack of an heir loomed over not just his head, but his wife’s and the nation’s head. It worried them all.

But certain things worried Nicholas more, the literacy of his people for one, a Census occurred that year, and found that the literacy, the ability to read and write was far behind that of the other great powers. 31% and 13% respectfully, compared to the other western powers, which held literacy rates in the high 80s and 90s. It was unforgivable to Nicholas that this was the case, it only weakened the growth of the Empire.

This was an issue for Nicholas, a large one clearly, and so he brought it up with his Minister of Public education, wishing to establish some form of universal primary education. Enough so that his people could learn to read and write. Nicholas was a gentle soul, slightly bookish in some regards, and he couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not to be able to explore the wondrous world that was literature, let alone rule as Tsar. These of course, weren’t concerns of the average Russian peasant, the “wonderous world of literature” meant little if it couldn’t help keep the farm running smooth. But Nicholas felt the desire to solve this problem, and so he set his minister off to increase primary education.

After these reforms, Nicholas went ahead to push for increased industrialization, Russia was industrializing, but was far from an industrial state, it in fact, lagged behind its western counterparts in even the basic industries, and this simply couldn’t stand for Nicholas. He ordered Witte to find a way to increase industrialization, which despite Nicholas’ eagerness to increase it, was already happening considerably faster than it was during his father’s or grandfather’s reign.

Witte would find a way, protectionist measures such as tariffs helped incentivize industrialization, increasing demand for goods that were not imported. He did his best to increase railroad construction even more than it already was. Further basic industries would prop themselves up, some companies would be given rights to hold a monopoly over these industries, others would be allowed to take a more competitive path, such as the textiles industry.

Labor Reform wouldn’t be forgotten, as free medical care was introduced, it would end up covering 70% of all industrial workers, remuneration for industrial accidents would also be introduced, requiring the employer to cover about 20% of the cost of the maintenance of the worker, though this would increase in the future. However, the workers were not so satisfied, The Government organized state-sponsored and supervised “unions”, legally they were just organizations as unions themselves were banned, these failed to appetize many, who went underground to form their own, unsupervised and illegal unions.

In the end, the clock would struck twelve, the morning sun would begin to come up in a few hours, and the dawn of the 20th Century had begun, Russia was changing, for better or for worse. The World was changing as well, Imperialism ran rampant as always, but the fragile peace was ending, Bismarck’s Concert of Europe was stumbling on, in a crippled state, and the great powers of the world eyed each other uneasily, forming alliance networks to defend one another. The Storm was brewing, but had yet to strike, as many knew and many feared it would.


Many thanks to those who had contributed to the discussion of this timeline, or have just watched it. The fact people like my story telling enough to want to read it, and put so much effort in discussing it, amazes me, and I'm grateful for it. Happy Easter to all that celebrate it!

I'll also start to add footnotes to any deviations from our history at the end of these, starting now

Unfortunately, if you are reading this message, it means two things, that i found this little message funny enough to include, to which i hope you find it somewhat humorous as well, and that I have posted the chapter and have yet to add the footnotes, likely because I am tired and need sleep
 
1897 - Chapter 3 - Where Shall The Bear Go?

View attachment 639279
Russia’s Foreign Policy, Nicholas needed to decide what his goals for Russia externally were. Bismarck’s Concert of Europe was dying, a network of alliances had grown, Germany had developed a Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy. And the French held their alliance with his nation, Russia. The only great power currently outside of this equation was Britain.

Nicholas thought long about his goals and aspirations for the Empire, he saw the need for the empire to reform, economically if not governmentally. He had already begun the process with his change of policy with the zemstvos. But the foreign affairs of the nation, that would be a tricky devil. Nicholas wanted a strong Russia, in all ways. He wanted to expand Russia’s influence in the east, he knew that much, but the true question in his mind was how far he would go, was the far east destined to be Russia’s domain.

Nicholas didn’t believe so, Russia was, at the end of the day, a European power. Europe was where Russian influence would one day grow. But as long as the concert of Europe stood, stood sickly but it still stood, it would be unlikely as any route of expanding power there meant conflict with a great power. Russia for the time being, would have to choose its battles in Europe, and focus on the east for the meantime, Nicholas finally decided.

What was good for Nicholas however, was that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had died recently, and a replacement was needed. Nicholas would eventually settle on Mikhail Nikolaevich Muravyov for this role. As that concluded, Nicholas left to meet with his Finance Minister, his old friend and ally, Witte.

Witte had begun a monetary reform upon Nicholas’ ascension to the throne, transferring Russia to the Gold Standard, in order to increase investment from foreigners. Now, The Russian State Bank held nearly as much gold as current outstanding banknotes. This was helping the Russian currency, and in turn with other economic practices put in place by his father and Witte, the Russian economy was industrializing. However, this industrialization brought with it several issues, mainly, the rights of the workers.

By the middle of the year, a law would be passed to limit working hours to 11.5 hours a day, with an increase of inspections of the factories. Nicholas was also worried about the state of the peasantry in his nation, Whilst his Grandfather ended Serfdom on paper, in reality, serfdom remained, and the reparations the peasants had to pay enforced it. Nicholas understood this to some degree, and he knew that it was holding Russia back. Under Nicholas’ orders, these reparations would be lessened to 3/4th of what remained. This left the thought prevailing throughout the nation, if Nicholas intended to do more at a later time, giving great hopes for the peasantry of the nation, and great worry to the Russian nobility.

Several Evenings later, Nicholas would find great joy, for the Tsarina had birthed another child, and while yes, he was happy about the whole affair, the unfortunate part of it was that this child was a daughter, and thus not an heir. Two girls, two daughters, zero heirs. It frustrated the Russian people, their last tsar had died young, “could this tsar not do the same?” They thought. It was an understandable fear they held. But, The Tsar could do nothing about it, except pray for a son, an heir. As Nicholas looked out his window that evening, watching the city slumber, 14 hundred miles away, a young man would have his final slumber.



View attachment 639273
St. Nicholas Monastery - Verkhoturye, Russia



The young man, 28 years of age, had come from a Siberian village on a pilgrimage, and had toured the St. Nicholas Monastery, yet he was not a monk. He had stayed in the village for several months, been humbled by the elder there, and had become a changed man, he was transformed having becoming a religious man, whether he was a better man remain up for debate. Yet it was all for naught it seem, as another man, desperate in all manners of the word, brandished a knife at the pilgrim, hoping to gain something the pilgrim had not. And this interaction would leave the pilgrim with the knife in his chest, and within minutes, the pilgrim would close his eyes for the final time.

The Pilgrim’s wife and family would not hear of the news for weeks, but in the end, they would learn that their husband and father, a pilgrim by the name of Grigory Rasputin, was dead.


1898

Nicholas handed a letter to his Minister of Foreign affairs, he said nothing, handed him the letter, and sent him on his way. There were bigger thoughts in his mind, That being of Official Nationality, Pravoslávie, samoderzhávie, naródnost, Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality. The Concept and Doctrine was introduced by Nicholas I, revived by his father. And with that, specifically “Nationality”, came Russification. Nicholas wasn’t too opposed to it, Russia was meant to be Russian, he thought. But Russification had brought anger from many. Pan-Slavism however, had increasing become a popular school of thought, one Nicholas partook in himself. Perhaps this political doctrine could be introduced in a reform of his father’s policy, Nicholas thought.

A Reorientation of Nationality, away from that of the concept that Russia was built and founded by the Russian people, which had lend itself to support of russification. Nicholas theorized that the modern empire was founded by the Slavic people, with the Russians as first among equals. The Official change in policy, would be a matter of a few words, and a few orders. The meaning of Nationality, in terms of this policy would switch from “recognition of the state-founding role on the Russian nationality, and equal citizen rights for all other peoples inhabiting Russia ” to “recognition of the state-founding role on the Slavic people, and equal citizen rights for all other peoples inhabiting Russia” Alongside this, Nicholas would end the russification policy in the Baltics started by his father, seeing the Baltic Germans as vital allies to the Russian Regime within the nation, and seeing no need to antagonize them. Russification, because of this, would ramp down considerably in several areas, such as the Baltics or the polish territories. More indirect means being taken across the board, with some policies, such as the promotion of the Cyrillic alphabet would stay of course.

The Letter, Nicholas had handed off, nearly 30 minutes ago, would have even larger ramifications. Nicholas’s foreign minister would send a message from the Russian government to all representatives of foreign powers that evening. The message listed several issues plaguing the world, and would go on to state “this is now the highest duty for all States. Filled with this feeling, the sovereign emperor to command me deigned to appeal to the Governments of states, whose representatives are accredited at the Imperial Court, with a proposal to convene a conference in the form of discussing this important task”

These messages would result in what would be known as the Hague Conference, set to happen in 1899, and as it just so happened, it was set to happen on the Tsar’s birthday that year, the 18th of May.

1899

At this Conference, which all of the great powers as well as multiple smaller powers attended, several things were agreed upon, among these things would be the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, what the rules of war on land and sea were to be, the manner in which explosives could be dropped from the sky, which was not at all according to the statute which all except the US and the UK signed, and the type of bullets that could be used.

Nearly a month to the day later, Nicholas would bear witness to the birth of his third child, once again a girl, her name was to be Maria. And once again, he was happy, but the lack of an heir loomed over not just his head, but his wife’s and the nation’s head. It worried them all.

But certain things worried Nicholas more, the literacy of his people for one, a Census occurred that year, and found that the literacy, the ability to read and write was far behind that of the other great powers. 31% and 13% respectfully, compared to the other western powers, which held literacy rates in the high 80s and 90s. It was unforgivable to Nicholas that this was the case, it only weakened the growth of the Empire.

This was an issue for Nicholas, a large one clearly, and so he brought it up with his Minister of Public education, wishing to establish some form of universal primary education. Enough so that his people could learn to read and write. Nicholas was a gentle soul, slightly bookish in some regards, and he couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not to be able to explore the wondrous world that was literature, let alone rule as Tsar. These of course, weren’t concerns of the average Russian peasant, the “wonderous world of literature” meant little if it couldn’t help keep the farm running smooth. But Nicholas felt the desire to solve this problem, and so he set his minister off to increase primary education.

After these reforms, Nicholas went ahead to push for increased industrialization, Russia was industrializing, but was far from an industrial state, it in fact, lagged behind its western counterparts in even the basic industries, and this simply couldn’t stand for Nicholas. He ordered Witte to find a way to increase industrialization, which despite Nicholas’ eagerness to increase it, was already happening considerably faster than it was during his father’s or grandfather’s reign.

Witte would find a way, protectionist measures such as tariffs helped incentivize industrialization, increasing demand for goods that were not imported. He did his best to increase railroad construction even more than it already was. Further basic industries would prop themselves up, some companies would be given rights to hold a monopoly over these industries, others would be allowed to take a more competitive path, such as the textiles industry.

Labor Reform wouldn’t be forgotten, as free medical care was introduced, it would end up covering 70% of all industrial workers, remuneration for industrial accidents would also be introduced, requiring the employer to cover about 20% of the cost of the maintenance of the worker, though this would increase in the future. However, the workers were not so satisfied, The Government organized state-sponsored and supervised “unions”, legally they were just organizations as unions themselves were banned, these failed to appetize many, who went underground to form their own, unsupervised and illegal unions.

In the end, the clock would struck twelve, the morning sun would begin to come up in a few hours, and the dawn of the 20th Century had begun, Russia was changing, for better or for worse. The World was changing as well, Imperialism ran rampant as always, but the fragile peace was ending, Bismarck’s Concert of Europe was stumbling on, in a crippled state, and the great powers of the world eyed each other uneasily, forming alliance networks to defend one another. The Storm was brewing, but had yet to strike, as many knew and many feared it would.


Many thanks to those who had contributed to the discussion of this timeline, or have just watched it. The fact people like my story telling enough to want to read it, and put so much effort in discussing it, amazes me, and I'm grateful for it. Happy Easter to all that celebrate it!

I'll also start to add footnotes to any deviations from our history at the end of these, starting now

Unfortunately, if you are reading this message, it means two things, that i found this little message funny enough to include, to which i hope you find it somewhat humorous as well, and that I have posted the chapter and have yet to add the footnotes, likely because I am tired and need sleep
YES! Another update!
 
Okay, to all you folks who have watched this timeline. To spark some discussion, I want to hear your predictions on how this timeline will play out, how World War One will play out and etc.
 
Okay, to all you folks who have watched this timeline. To spark some discussion, I want to hear your predictions on how this timeline will play out, how World War One will play out and etc.
Russia does better in ww1, maybe pushes a little maybe not um better economy means bigger everything so obviously more influential economically in smaller and bigger nations well more influential than normal, um maybe japan and Korea become protectorates and maybe some colonies in Indonesia and Africa and possibly South America or something along that line
 
Okay, to all you folks who have watched this timeline. To spark some discussion, I want to hear your predictions on how this timeline will play out, how World War One will play out and etc.
The Ottoman Empire capitulates earlier, the Caucasus campaign will be more successful so maybe the Armenian Genocide is prevented. An earlier Brusilov offensive so that Galicia-Lodomeria will be taken earlier. The German front will mostly be defensive, maybe Memel and Poznan will be taken. The Ottoman capitulation can be speed up with the introduction of Greece and Bulgaria on Russia's side ( Bulgaria gets most of North Macedonia but Serbia is compensated with Albania. It's important because Serbia won't be landlocked. You can promise Greece the Megali idea without Constantinople but with Bithynia).
 
Okay, to all you folks who have watched this timeline. To spark some discussion, I want to hear your predictions on how this timeline will play out, how World War One will play out and etc.
Russia will perform better enough to hold onto their gains in the Brusilov Offensive but not be able to perform these offensives frequently. The Czar in this TL will not take control of the army. The Trans-Siberian Railway will be utilized better this time so a better mobilization of troops from the East to the West. Russia will still have its screw ups in the Great War but not enough to break its back. It will perform better against the Ottomans hopefully, good enough it could make more gains in Armenia or Attaturk doesn't take over the Turkish Army there. When partitioning the Ottomans, Russia will get its promised lands such as Constantinople. Lastly, I hope this is included, when the Turkish War for Independence happens like in OTL Russia will assist Greece, France, and Britain in crushing it. As a result, enforcing the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne and reducing Turkey to a rump state.
 
Why is an anti ottoman Russia even compulsory by the comments above? Russia and the Turks between 1897 and 1911 had pretty warm relations with an alliance and royal marriage on the works before the italo Turkish war torpedoed that.
 
Why is an anti ottoman Russia even compulsory by the comments above? Russia and the Turks between 1897 and 1911 had pretty warm relations with an alliance and royal marriage on the works before the italo Turkish war torpedoed that.
Indeed. Basically, Russian Empire had very little to gain from a war with the Ottomans and the Ottomans had a lot to lose (as did happen). Tye Straits idea was a bogus: in the case of war a neutral Ottoman Empire would make the Black Sea ports open for the imports which would be a great advantage comparing to OTL. And the Turks let the pro-German party to get them into a disastrous adventure which ended the empire.

How about the Ottomans declare themselves neutral and asking “Goeben” to leave? Joining the allies would mean war with Bulgaria but that’s it.
Russia is free to use the troops it had in OTL on the Caucasus (not too many, but still) and the Brits to use resources spent in OTL on Middle East in France.

Well, if we have NII with the brains, the RJW is avoided, the huge resources spent on Port Arthur and Pacific Fleet are not wasted, TransSib has a line going to Vladivostok completely within Russian territory, ice free port of Murmansk is functional and has a railroad connection, Archangelsk is connected by a railroad with a standard gauge, a lot of attention is paid to the condition of the existing railroads and there is a comprehensive plan of their operations in the case of war which includes the private railroads as well. Instead of a meaningless naval buildup the resources are spent on production of heavy field artillery, machine guns and ammunition with, again, a comprehensive plan for industry mobilization in the case of war. There should be a plan for government purchasing an agricultural produce at a fixed price (with a provision for a forced “purchase”). In OTL most of these issues had been known before the war but addressing them was postponed or “in process” with a resulting need of the war time improvisations which, in the case of railroads equipment, simply did not work out (park of the locomotives and wagons had been shrinking with the well-known disastrous results). In this TL NII can keep Witte in charge of all railroad-related issues with the explicit emphasis on quality, organization and production of a new equipment even at expense of Witte’s pet projects in China.

Within the existing policy inviting the foreign investment a special attention should be paid to the foreign companies producing cars and related equipment: the planes had been using the same engines and Russia heavily depended upon the imports. Domestic production would allow buildup of the Russian aviation before the war: the pilot schools initiated by Alexander Michailovich in OTL could be greatly expanded, role of aviation properly understood (at the start of wwi Russian planes did not have machine guns) all the way to the early production of the OTL “Ilya Muromets” series of the heavy bombers. Probably the cost would be much lower than for one of the useless dreadnoughts.

There should be expanded trade relations with the US, especially in the area of purchasing the locomotives. In OTL happened only during the war and too late. Probably some of the gold reserve has to be held in the US banks not to be fully dependent on France in a critical moment.
 
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