Purdue University Graduate School

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The Romanovs on a World Stage: Autocracy, Democracy, and Crisis, 1896-1918

posted on 2023-04-20, 22:59 authored by Meredith Kathleen StukeyMeredith Kathleen Stukey, Meredith Tuttle Stukey

In 1917, the Romanov dynasty in Russia came to an end as Tsar Nicholas II abdicated during the February Revolution and the First World War. The Romanovs ruled Russia for over three-hundred years as absolute monarchs and until 1917, Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna fervently clung to their autocratic rule and projected an image of power and stability. Yet, their choices not only shaped Russia itself but also dictated Russia’s diplomatic and cultural relationship with their future allies in the First World War: Great Britain, France, and the United States of America. From 1896 to 1917, Tsar Nicholas II floundered amid a series of crisis and this dissertation considers five key moments in his reign that illustrate the complex relationship between Russia and the allies of the First World War. These events are: the Coronation of Nicholas II in 1896; Bloody Sunday and the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905; the Romanov Tercentenary in 1913; the role of Tsarina Alexandra in the First World War from 1914-1917; and the abdication of Nicholas II and asylum request by the Romanovs in 1917. All of these events showcase the diplomatic and media representations of the Romanovs among allied nations and how Nicholas performed and presented his view of himself to the rest of the world. Each Tsar of Russia fashioned himself into a mythic and ceremonial figure to the Russian people and this dissertation argues that the governments of Great Britain, France, and the United States accepted Nicholas’ self-representations for many years and ignored his autocratic rule in favor of their own military and financial interests. In 1917, after years of excusing his behavior, they finally rejected him. Ultimately, the Romanovs held great power at home and abroad and were major players in international events in the early twentieth century but they were unable to reconcile their autocratic regime with modern democracies. In the end, Nicholas’ and Alexandra’s failure to adapt and perform their roles effectively cost them their throne and left Russia in a state of war and disarray.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • History

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael G. Smith

Additional Committee Member 2

David Atkinson

Additional Committee Member 3

Ronald Bobroff

Additional Committee Member 4

Jennifer Foray

Additional Committee Member 5

Whitney Walton