Tag Archives: Nicholas II of Russia

The Top Eight Government Putschs, Coups, Overthrows, or Coup D’états

Big Three at the Potsdam Conference in Germany...
Big Three at the Potsdam Conference in Germany: Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Harry S. Truman and Generalissimo Josef Stalin, seated in garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Rick Bretz
Not having power for some people is too much to bare. So they go after it even if it means they have to take it away forcefully. There are not many bloodless coups. Power is too much of a drug for people to stand by without a fight. Even if taken peacefully, the people who had the power will pay some kind of price, either with their lives or with humiliation by the conquerors. No one can forget the sight of Mikhail Gorbachev being ordered around by Boris Yeltsin at the podium after he was forced to step down in the early 90s.

With the arrival of March, a couple of events come to mind. One is St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of St. Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland. The other being the Ides of March, March 15th. Besides being an old world celebration day it also known as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated at the base of the Statue of Pompey in 44 BC. This thought brought up the idea of other overthrows that have occurred in history and how important they were to the rest of world order.

The United States federal government has been stable  since George Washington took office (arguably since the Articles of Confederation) because we have a somewhat organized election that begins a disciplined series of events culminating in the inauguration of the next President of the United States. Some countries never achieve this process resulting in violence and destruction.
Here are eight coups that have, in my view, significantly reverberated across the globe.

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...
Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a result of the Cuban Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. 1959: Fidel Castro overthrows Batista.
This one is number one on the list because it almost caused two countries to launch missiles at each other a couple of years later. The  Cuban Missile Crisis might be one cause that began the whole 1960s free love, live and let live, drugs are fantastic thing in the sixties.  They probably figured, “Well, if the governments are going to send missiles at one another at any second, and we don’t have a say in it, we’ll have fun while we can.”  In addition, the United States is still dealing with the consequences of Fidel Castro ruling Cuba more than 50 years later with the trade embargo, travel restrictions and a Cuban constituency in Florida that can influence elections.  Besides that, there’s the Cuban cigar thing.

2. 1804: Napoleon Bonaparte becomes Emperor of France by a coup d’état.
Once Bonaparte came to power, he waged war all across Europe and with Britain. This is high up on the list due to Bonaparte inflicting war and destruction across Europe until the Russian winter stopped him along with his own ego.  Russian winters taught Bonaparte a lesson that Hitler forgot or refused to take into account more than a century later.

Royal Russian family (LOC)
Royal Russian family (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

3. 1917–March: abdication of Nicholas II of Russia in favor of the Russian Provisional Government.
Call it an abdication, but Nicholas II didn’t give up the Czar title willingly and would have kept it if he had had an avenue to remain on the throne.  Arguably his track record as a ruler wasn’t the best.  He oversaw the economic and military collapse of his country as well as executed his political opponents. He persecuted the Jewish people inside Russia and generally made poor decisions domestically and on foreign policy.  So, Vladimir Lenin had his chance but didn’t survive long enough to keep Josef Stalin out of the dictator seat.  Instead, the over throw eventually led to a corrupted, paranoid communist government, Josef Stalin, bad decisions during World War II, an arms race, an Iron Curtain, a Berlin Wall, missile launch sites in Cuba, the edge of total annihilation from nuclear weapons, and several billions and trillions of dollars on both sides used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

4. 1792- by the National Convention against King Louis XVI of France, the French Revolution.
The difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution is that those in power after the US revolution didn’t go around with a guillotine lopping the heads off the aristocracy, creating domestic terror throughout the land.

5. 1969–Sep 1st: Muammar al-Gaddafi overthrows King Idris I of Libya.
A country gets the wrong guy in; it could take more than 40 years to get rid of him. This dictator is on here due to his sanctioning, supporting, and harboring terrorists who executed one horrible event, the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. This Libyan dictator was a thorn in many government’s sides, including several Middle Eastern countries.

6. 1936- by Francisco Franco against Manuel Azaña.
Generalissimo Franco was the picture of opportunism. He helped put down an earlier coup when it didn’t benefit him. Became a leader for the 1936 coup that led to a civil war. He assumed power and remained there for almost 40 years. As I stated earlier, once you get some of these guys in, it is difficult to get them out. He died in 1975. He had economic successes, but it doesn’t make up for the torture and human rights abuses.  He kept power through censorship, imprisonment, forced labor camps, death sentences, and other political means. When it was beneficial to him, he moved his foreign policy towards the Italian and German fascist leaders prior to, and during, World War II. After the war, he maneuvered his political diplomacy toward the United States and NATO because he knew NATO wanted to stop the spread of communism.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. 1909-The Young Turk Revolution breaks out in the Ottoman Empire against the absolute rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
This is one coup that actually meant a great leap forward for a country. This coup led to an eventual Turkish revolution led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turks.  The father of modern Turkey is revered in his country. If it is possible to take a country and drag it into the modern world, that is what Ataturk did. He pushed through economic, social, and cultural reforms while creating a secular government. He was instrumental in separating Islamic Law from government. He mandated that Islamic Law be limited to the practice of religion while the government would use secular law.

8. 1971-Military in Uganda led by Idi Amin overthrows government.
This dictator’s regime was characterized by ethnic killings, corruption, nepotism, and according to most human rights groups, between 100 and 500 thousand people killed. Besides being arrogant and astonishingly brutal to his enemies, he started a war with Tanzania in 1978, the Uganda-Tanzania War. This war led to his fleeing the country and eventually landing in Saudi Arabia where he died in 2003.

The Demise of 3 Kings

Posted by Rick Bretz

Today’s headlines reveal that once a dictator has power they are reluctant to give it up.   I submit to the court of history as evidence the countries of Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Haiti, and many others. You can’t blame them.  As Mel Brooks said in his movie The History of the World, Part I, “It’s good to be King.”

The three stories of one Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and two Kings, England’s Charles I  and France’s Louis XVI can be reduced to isolated adolescences and lack of situational awareness in their homelands.  This isolation continued into their adult lives and created a stubbornness and sense of entitlement. Their refusal to understand the plight and basic needs of citizens and the nobility forced their enemies to take action.  The lack of leadership at crucial times gave their enemies the chance to strike and force a surrender.  In all three cases, the revolutionaries that captured them felt it necessary to execute them so that they would not be a living symbol for their supporters.  In two cases, King Louis XVI and King Charles I were beheaded.  In the case of Tsar Nicholas II, he was gunned down along with his entire family. Louis XVI’s wife, Marie Antoinette,  also met the executioner’s guillotine.  When there are wars, lack of basic needs like food and shelter, and general unrest, it can force people to desperation and revolution.  History’s lesson for these three rulers from the genetic lottery is that their lofty stations in life didn’t necessarily mean safety from scheming enemies.

SIMILARITIES

Charles   I-England Louis   XVI-France Nicholas II=Russia
Executed Executed Executed
Lacked   situational Awareness Lacked Situational   Awareness Lacked Situational   Awareness
Isolated Upbringing Isolated   Upbringing Isolated   Upbringing
Unsympathetic   Captors Unsympathetic   Captors Unsympathetic   Captors
Unwilling to Compromise Power Unwilling   to Compromise Power Unwilling   to Compromise Power

England’s King Charles I

Oliver cromwell imrpisoning king charles I
Oliver cromwell imrpisoning king charles I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

King Charles I of England ruled during the years from 1625 to January 30th, 1649.  It was during his reign when Puritans and Catholics began leaving England due to religious persecution.   He also kept dissolving parliament (3 times) so that he could run things his way within the first three years of his rule.  This forced him to raise funds by other forceful means. What really got him trouble was creating enemies within the nobility.   Due to wars with Scotland and Ireland and creating tensions within the religious communities, he was on a collision with powerful groups. Eventually, civil war began in 1642.  The Royalists were defeated in 1646 due to the Parliament’s alliance with the Scott’s.  Charles surrendered to the Scott’s who handed him over to Parliament.  He escaped to the Isle of Wright in 1647 and a second Civil War began and was finished within a year.  Parliamentarian General Oliver Cromwell defeated the Royalists.  Charles was captured.  The conquering parliamentarians decided that the country would never have peace if the King continued to live.  Cromwell and his associates put the King on trial, found him guilty of treason. He was executed  outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall, London on January 30th, 1649.

France’s King Louis XVI

Queen Marie Antoinette of France and her husba...
Queen Marie Antoinette of France and her husband King Louis XVI. of France with their first child Princess Marie Therese Charlotte of France, 1778 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louis the XVI got into trouble by not having the necessary leadership qualities to understand the social and political climate of the period.  He preferred hunting rather than sitting in his office trying to figure out budget concerns and other political matters.  He relied  heavily on the court member’s advice.  In addition, his treasury secretary’s financing part of the American Revolution reduced the funds or canceled out any savings from the reforms the King approved.  His laissez-fair attitude got him trouble with parliament, the nobility and his subjects.  Once the debt got to be unmanageable the King tried to tax the notable or privileged classes.  The assembly balked at that demand.  The King sent troops to Paris to force his will.  This was the spark that ignited Bastille Day, where the Bastille was stormed on July 14, 1789.  The royal family was confined to Paris in Tuileries Palace a couple of months later.  They tried to escape but were recaptured.  At the time, France was at war with Austria and Prussia. Marie Antoinette’s was the daughter of an Austrian royal family.  The Austrian’s made it clear that should any harm come to Louis and his family, they would march on Paris.  Louis’s communication with the Prussian’s infuriated the revolutionaries.  After the family’s  imprisonment in the Temple in August of 1792, incriminating  evidence was used to try Louis XVI in January of 1793.  He was found guilty and guillotined on January 21, 1793.

Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II

Tsar Nicholas was unprepared for managing a country as large a Russia when he assumed power in 1894.  He mistrusted a majority of his ministers and was

English: Photo taken by A. A. Pasetti of Tsar ...
English: Photo taken by A. A. Pasetti of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, near age 30, at St. Petersburg, Russia, 1898. Français : Photo de Nicolas II de Russie, prise par A. A. Pasetti en 1898, alors que Nicolas II a 30 ans. Русский: Фотография A. A. Pasetti царя Николая Второго, в возрасте 30 лет в Санкт-Петербурге, 1898 год. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

influenced by his wife Princess Alexandra.  He got off to a bad start when he tried to gain more land by getting into a war with Japan over Manchuria.  This resulted in a humiliating defeat on land and sea.  This provoked riots and demonstrations due to poor economic conditions in Russia. In January 1905, Russian troops fired into a crowd who were demonstrating for reforms.  This event forced a change. The Tsar, in order to keep power, accepted a constitution and a ruling government body called the duma. This enabled the middle class to have more say in government affairs.  However, the Tsar still had his secret police to stifle radicals. This held off the inevitable, but with the start of World War I in 1914, the Tsar made an unwise decision.  He went to the front to lead the Russian Army . The Army was experiencing heavy losses and with each one, the blame was attributed to the Tsar.  Combine that with food shortages, high inflation, suppression and general unrest, Vladimir Lenin had the chance to strike.  In 1917, widespread demonstrations in Petrograd, combined with the Tsar’s loss of support from the Army,  Nicholas II abdicated the throne. After the end of World War I, a civil war began between the Bolsheviks and the anti-Bolsheviks. The Bolshevik’s moved the royal family from place to place until Lenin gave the order to execute the whole family.

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