Meet “Nicholas the Bloody”

S.J. Duncan-Clark, History’s Greatest War: A Pictorial Narrative(U.S.: E.T. Townshend, 1919), 177.

This picture depicts Tsar Nicholas II surrounded by his family in 1919. Nicholas II had little to no knowledge on how to govern or how to deal with any foreign or domestic affairs. Often, Nicholas II would overlook the aspirations of his people and referred to them as senseless dreamers.  This combination of political ineptitude and stubbornness of his belief in aristocratic powers did not end well for the Russian people. I believe that Tsar Nicholas II had the greatest impact in the revolutions of February and October, 1917 due to the political crisis that came along with him being in powers which as a consequence took the Russian Empire from being one of the greatest great powers throughout the world to economic and military collapse.

When Tsar Nicholas II came into power it was a turning point for the history of Russia. A turning point in which fell the wrong direction. Nicholas II, otherwise known as Nicholas the Bloody, due to his involvement and oversight in Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the suppression of the 1905 Revolution, the execution of political opponents and responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War all contributed to the long term stresses of the war and revolutions. For the most part, I think that the February and October revolutions were inevitable but with proper leadership throughout Russia I think the outcome could have been greatly minimized instead of seeing some millions of Russians dying throughout his reign. Having a rather lack luster leadership can lead to great stresses, a lack of confidence by its people, and overall maliciousness towards political leadership.

Hardship after hardship occurred under the rule of Nicholas the Bloody that by February of 1917 the people of Russia have had enough. Riots broke out onto the break in St. Petersburg while Nicholas II was out of town in Mogilev. By this time the Duma had turned on him and prevented him from boarding a train back to his home to resume leadership. Shortly after, the Duma elected there own provisional committee and Nicholas had lost full control of the people he once reigned over. He had little to no choice but to relinquish his throne from the monarchy but by then countless damage had already begun and a snowball effect was occurring.


History of the Nilova Monastery

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. View of the Monastery from the Solarium, 1910. Digital color rendering. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-03973 (44)


The St. Nil Monastery has a beautiful yet tragic history which is what ultimately sparked my interest in this being my first blog post. The St. Nil Monastery was established in 1528 Stolobnyi Island in Lake Seliger in Tver’ Province. For reference, this is northwest of Moscow. In the 1600’s the members of the monastery began constructing what would be considered one of the largest and wealthiest monasteries in all of the Russian Empire. This photo was taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, best known for his work in brining color photography to the Russian empire. Like many of his pictures, this one depicts the St. Nil Monastery in all its beauty.

Whether it’s the gorgeous bridge that catches your eye, the dome roof tops, or the landscaping there is a lot going on in the picture that pleases the eye. Alas, not all good things last and you should never judge a book by its cover. In 1927 the monastery was closed by the Soviet regime and repurposed at times as a concentration camp and other times as an orphanage. You would never assume looking at a structure this beautiful that hateful acts of a concentration camp could ever occur here. In 1939, 4700 Polish prisoners of war were held captive here in what they knew it called as the “Otashkov Camp”. The reason this site was decided upon as being used for such purposes is its location to the front line of the war. It was also used as a military hospital. Later, it was used again as a place to house juvenile delinquents and then a place for the elderly. Needless to say, the monastery had a wide variety of purposes over a 100 year time span.

Between 1971 and 1990, the once St. Nil monastery, was attempted to become a tourist attraction. That ultimately failed after multiple attempts due to a lack of resources but further the hypocrisy of the situation. They were trying to sell this place to tourists as a place of beauty when so much ugliness has occurred on the same grounds. In 1990, the church and the grounds was finally returned to the Orthodox Church. Recovery efforts are slow but each year they are seeing progress. Today, you can cross the bridge and go visit the once beautiful monastery of St. Nil while soaking in the deep troubling history of what occurred on a place so pure.