Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Nicholas II’s Propensity for Hyper-Centralization Led to Khodynka Field Disaster, Historians Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 30 – In what some may see as a warning to Russia’s current ruler, historians suggest that it was Nicholas II’s propensity for centralizing everything in his hands or those of his immediate entourage which led to the Khodynka field disaster at the time of his coronation.

            Today marks the 125th anniversary of the Khodynka field disaster when thousands of ordinary Russians trampled each other, many to death, as they tried to get trinkets that were being handed out to the population as part of ceremonies surrounding Nicholas II’s coronation (aif.ru/society/history/tragediya_hodynki_i_nikolay_ii_kakie_processy_upustil_posledniy_imperator).

            This tragedy which helped give rise to Nicholas’ sobriquet of “bloody” was brought about, historians say, because of the new tsar’s desire to centralize everything in his own hands rather than allowing parts of the government bureaucracy with more expertise and experience to handle many matters.

            At the time of the coronation of Nicholas II’s father, the tsarist government also distributed trinkets to the population, but there was no problem because then this action was overseen by the governor general of Moscow who knew something about handling mass meetings.

But in advance of his own coronation, Nicholas II decided that the entire process should be managed by his household ministry which didn’t. The result was a disaster that prompted the tsar himself to reflect that he had been born under an unhappy star and that his own future was anything but bright.


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