Segments in this Video

Romanov's Final Century (03:06)


After two centuries of ruling, the Romanov dynasty was threatened by the Russian people. The first Russian revolution was led by the Decembrists who were subsequently executed.

Foundations of Democracy (03:05)

After the death of Alexander I, Nicholas II was seated on the throne, but 3,000 soldiers demanded revolution on his first day as emperor, forcing him to open fire on his own people. Nicholas' philosophy was of orthodoxy and tradition, rooting the country firmly in the past.

Portrait of the Serfs (02:05)

Despite Nicholas' orthodoxy, writers and thinkers known as the intelligentsia emerged. Writers like Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev wrote in journals, speaking against serfdom.

Deceptive Numbers (03:16)

Nicholas expanded Russian territory with the largest army in the world, but the military was unskilled and unmotivated. In 1853, the weakness of the Russian army was exposed in the Crimean War.

Suicide by Snow (02:32)

When Nicholas was faced with his military weakness, he became downcast and soon fell ill. His successor Alexander II of Russia was considered the tsar liberator, ending serfdom.

End of Serfdom (02:29)

Alexander II sent out a document to be read at churches ending serfdom, giving rights to the serfs. The Russian elites were not generous with giving out land.

Hunting the Tsar (02:58)

In 1866, the first public attempt to murder Alexander II of Russia occurred by a student radical in St. Petersburg. The first modern terrorist organization called People's Will furthered the attempt to murder the tsar in 1879.

Death of Alexander II (02:51)

People's Will successfully killed Alexander II after throwing grenades at him in St. Petersburg. The reform that would have been introduced was halted as his successor believed offering reform is what led his father to his death.

Beard and Muscle (02:47)

During the reign of Alexander III, he gave the police more power, allowed newspapers to be shut down, and employed a secret police. He built a new prison where 68 were interred, meeting execution, death, disease, suicide, and insanity.

Reviving the Old Russia (02:03)

Following the hanging of his brother, Vladimir Lenin was radicalized and began producing literature in favor of his beliefs. Leo Tolstoy urged Alexander III to show love to his enemies, but the tsar refused to stand down.

Deeply Russian Ruler (03:19)

After Alexander III died of kidney disease at age 44, Nicholas II of Russia began his reign, which he rooted in tradition. He and his wife were intensely religious and built many churches.

Communion with the Divine (03:43)

During the Industrial Revolution of Russia, peasant factory workers marched to the Winter Palace to demand rights. Bloody Sunday ensued, as 12,000 troops had been posted to deter them and murdered 40 protesters.

Face to Face With the People (01:56)

To placate revolutionaries, Nicholas II promised a free press, right of assembly, and a constitution, as well as an elected assembly called the Duma who would have to give approval for legislation to be passed. At the opening of the Duma, Nicholas made a speech about autocracy.

Grave Consequences (03:40)

At the Alexander Palace, Nicholas and his family remained in seclusion. His heir, Alexei, was cursed with hemophilia. Holy man Grigori Rasputin was brought in to heal Alexei.

Spiritual Homecoming (02:10)

The Romanovs locked themselves into seclusion and learned little about the changing country. In 1913, on the 300 year anniversary of Romanov power, they made a public appearance.

Malign Power (02:09)

In 1914, World War I broke out and Nicholas decided to take personal control of the Russian army. Rasputin became a source of gossip and shame for the Romanov family.

Tainted by Association (03:50)

Because of Rasputin's reputation, he was lured into the home of Prince Felix who murdered him with cyanide and a pistol in 1916. World War I killed or injured 75 percent of Russian soldiers and on International Women's Day, women and workers protested.

End Autocracy (02:39)

Nicholas II ordered troops to use force against the protesters, but the protesters did not stand down. Politicians sent telegrams to Nicholas and he agreed to abdicate.

Captive at the Palace (02:15)

The new provisional government took over, and the Romanov dynasty ended. Nicholas II and Alexandra were arrested and taken to Siberia.

Peace, Land, and Bread (03:37)

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin overthrew the provisional government. The Bolsheviks hold the Romanov family responsible for the 1905 Revolution. The Romanov family was executed.

Devotion to Autocracy (01:50)

Nicholas II held on to autocracy because of the history of the Romanov dynasty. He saw Western-style reforms as catalysts to instability and assassination.

Credit: The Road to Revolution: Empire of the Tsars (00:37)

Credit: The Road to Revolution: Empire of the Tsars

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The Road to Revolution: Empire of the Tsars

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Lucy Worsley concludes her history of the Romanov dynasty, investigating how the family's grip on Russia unraveled in their final century. She will show how the years 1825-1918 were bloody and traumatic, a period when four tsars tried—and failed—to deal with the growing pressure for constitutional reform and revolution. Lucy will find out how the Romanovs tried to change the system themselves: in 1861, millions of enslaved serfs were freed by the Tsar-Liberator, Alexander II. But Alexander paid the ultimate penalty for opening the Pandora's Box of reform when he was later blown up by terrorists on the streets of St Petersburg. Elsewhere, there was repression, denial, war, and - in the case of the last tsar, Nicholas II—a fatalistic belief in the power of God: Nicholas's faith in the notorious holy man Rasputin was a major part in his undoing. Lucy also details the chilling murder of Nicholas and his family in 1918, and asks the question: could all of this horror have been avoided? Lucy will also show how there was a growing movement among the people of Russia to determine their own fate. She traces the growth of the intelligentsia, writers and thinkers who sought to have a voice about Russia. Speaking out came with a risk after Ivan Turgenev wrote about the appalling life of the serfs in 1852, he was sentenced to house arrest by tsar Nicholas I. Lucy also shows how anger against the Romanov regime created a later generation of radicals committed to overturning the status quo. Some would turn to terrorism, and finally, revolution. As well as political upheaval, there is private drama, and Lucy explains how Nicholas II's family life played into his family's downfall. His son and heir Alexei suffered from hemophilia; the secrecy the family placed around the condition led them into seclusion, further distancing them from the Russian people. It also led them to the influence of man who seemed to have the power to heal their son, and who was seen as a malign influence on Nicholas: Rasputin.

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL117371

ISBN: 978-1-63521-252-5

Copyright date: ©2015

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