« 10.18- The Witte System  | Main | 10.20- The Liberal Tradition (Such As It Is) »

21 October 2019


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I see 10.18 on the apple podcast, but not here on the site (I don't have my adapter for std headphones - DAMN YOU APPLE!!).


I'll just be....over here......

Jacob Wolbrueck

Please post a copy of the photo taken at Bertie's suggestion at the wedding.


You went silent there for a while, Mike. Hope you're doing okay.



Anna was the daughter of Ivan V and step-niece of Peter the Great, see family tree, not Peter's daughter as told (3:10-3:12).


Konstantin T.

In fact, Mike is correct, Nicholas II was the descendant of Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia, daughter of Peter the Great. See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchess_Anna_Petrovna_of_Russia.
You are confusing Anna Petrovna with the daughter of Ivan V, also named Anna, who later became the Empress of Russia (1730-1740). Please see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_of_Russia.

Konstantin T.

I think you might be misinterpreting the familiar-diminutive form of name Nicholas - "Nikolasha."
Wikipedia gives a rather accurate explanation of the familiar-diminutive forms of Russian names, "...they demonstrate a warm and tender attitude towards the addressee... they are often used by parents addressing their children." Please see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_given_name#Diminutive_forms
Consequently, the hight of a person is unlikely to have anything to do with such a familiar-diminutive form as "Nikolasha."

Konstantin T.

Keep going! You are doing great!
Have you decided when to end the Russian Revolution? If you are planning to include the Civil Wars, then I would highly recommend "The "Russian" Civil Wars 1916-1926 by Jonathan D. Smele. It would give you great insight into various forces that collided across the territories that once were the Russian Empire and its neighbors.

A Facebook User

I started with the history of Rome podcast and listen to that three or four times and now I'm all caught up but this episode won't play. Love your work man!


Can confirm previous message, there seems to be something wrong with the episode.

Konstantinos XI Monomachos

"Nikolasha" indeed does not mean "little Nicholas", but more like "dear Nicholas". (Unless you say it sarcastically or say it without knowing the person closely enough, but those are contextual uses, not general.) All the Slavic diminutives/hypocorisms of names works this way, suggesting various degrees of tenderness, friendliness, or familiarity.

Nicholas II had the same height as Napoleon Bonaparte, i.e. average, not remarkable either way.

No other problems with the episode.

Gregory Walker Levitsky

Thank you for catching Witte! It grated the ears and was going to be my first comment :-)

Do you have anyone to run your pronunciations by? I would be happy to help if you do not. One this episode was "Gatchina" - it's not GatchEEna, but GAtchina (think "Gotcha!"). Another from the previous episode is "Okhrana" - the "kh" in Russian transliteration is meant to signify an H sound slightly more guttural than in English, though not as much so as, say, Hebrew. The K should not be pronounced at all. It is more o-hrAna than o-krAna.

Separately, the episodes have been really excellent thus far, but I have two gripes:

1) It seems like Alexander III gets sort of short shrift. His reactionary policies had a significant impact on the revolutionary movements, and really quashed any hope of successful uprising for almost 25 years, until 1905. Though this "success" may have been illusory, I feel it bears mentioning, as does the (possibly apocryphal?) despairing of Lenin that the revolution would not come in his lifetime. He *was* known as the Tsar-Peacemaker, for tranquility at home as well as not engaging in any wars abroad.

2) This is a big one. I've always looked forward to your coverage of the Russian Revolution precisely because you gave such a fair reading to Charles I and Louis XVI, and I only ask that you do the same for Nicholas II, rather than begin with the premise that he was simply the worst possible ruler this scenario has to offer. That is not the universal verdict of (non-Soviet) Russian historians, and while you're doing a good job at portraying him as a sympathetic and tragic figure, I hope that you will find some way to show an alternate view of the Tsar as more than a vacillating incompetent (because he really wasn't).

Finally (and I really hope you're still reading!), I am sure that next episode (or the one after that at the latest) you will be introducing Rasputin. I beg, beg, beg of you - do NOT refer to him as "the mad monk." This is an error of abbreviated history - the "mad monk" was not Rasputin at all (who was not a monk, nor was he ever considered "mad" by anyone), but Priest-monk Iliodor (Sergei Trufanov), an ally-turned-enemy of Rasputin's who was constantly in the press for taking on Rasputin, the Synod, and the Court, and was finally excommunicated from the Church and ended his life living as a janitor in New York City. As time passed and the story got shorter, Iliodor vanished, but the nickname remained and became attached to Rasputin himself. Correcting this common mistake - and eventually bringing Iliodor into the story! - would do some justice to this sprawling historical tragedy.

Keep up the great work!



Kotkin briefly touched on that scenario in his biography of Stalin. It's very hard to see "autocracy without an autocrat", to quote one common Russian right-wing complaint about the late Nicholas II years developing under Alexander III, that's for sure. But Kotkin points out that Tsarist regime's inability to engage in mass politics was what really doomed it, long-term. It was either engage in mass politics in favor of the autocracy or switch to a constitutional system: in the age of modernity, there was no middle ground. I don't see Alexander addressing that. There was a constituency available: the Black Hundreds, Union of the Russian People, etc, which at its peak was probably the most popular organizations in the empire, or at least one of them. But engaging even far-right movements, who openly wanted a mystical bond between Tsar and people, went fully in the face of the idea that the Tsar needed anything other than his divine mandate.

That meant that whenever something, anything went wrong-wrong emperor, foreign conflict, economic issues, you name it-the regime would have been in trouble. Durnovo's memorandum warning the regime not to get into another war, that this time really would destroy it, summed up the atmosphere of tension quite well. But even Durnovo- particularly clairvoyant in his prediction of total social revolution should Russia engage in war with Germany-essentially wanted to wait out Nicholas II and hope that the next Romonov would be a real autocrat. Reality and the brutal world of international politics wasn't going to give Russia that kind of time. It was coping better than most: Russia's economy was the fasting growing in the world. But the political structure couldn't take another 1905 style crisis as things were.

Without WWI, the Bolsheviks themselves would have likely remained marginal, in my estimation. Durnovo and the Ohkrana were really on the verge of having them melt down completely in self-destruction by the early 1910s: terrorists are by nature prone to paranoia, something that wiser intelligence agencies have always exploited. (Stalin and Trotsky were both dogged by accusations of being Ohkrana lapdogs throughout their political careers.)

But the autocracy itself was still living on a volcano. Even if its enemies were as well. Ultimately, WWI proved to be too much, and that left the door open for... everybody.


Hello, I just listen the podcast about the Commune revisited (that I cannot comment on,sorry). And I really wish you would stop saying over ans over "the men of the commune". WE know that Louise Michel is mostly the only one remembered, but more than a 1000 women have been exécutéd, and many other send on exil. Also, the excuse for the word "men" being universal, do not hold anymore. I don't know if my request will be taken into account. I understand this is a shift in the way we think, but a shift toward accuracy. Thank you


Konstantin T.,

You're right...Nicholas II was descended from Peter the Great through Grand Duchess Anna. The point I made was Empress Anna was the last ruler whose mother and father were Russian. My apologies for the confusion.

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