Journal of the Upsilon-Upsilon Chapterof Phi Alpha ThetaTHE UPSILONIANStudent EditorWhitney GoochBoard of AdvisorsBruce Hicks, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Advisorsand Associate Professor of Political ScienceOline Carmical, Ph.D., Professor of HistoryChris Leskiw, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political ScienceAl Pilant, Ph.D., Professor of HistoryStephanie Ray, student member of Upsilon-UpsilonM.C. Smith, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of HistorySarah Whitaker, student member of Upsilon-Upsilon
COPYRIGHT 8 2007 by University of the CumberlandsDepartment of History and Political ScienceAll Rights ReservedPrinted in the United States of Americaii
TABLE OF CONTENTSivComments from the Advisor................................................ Eric L. WakeComments from the Student Editor.................................Whitney GoochvviComments from the President ............................................. Jay HannahsThe AuthorsARTICLES1 A New Look from Above: Eisenhower, the U-2, andDeterrence.............................................................................. Jay Hannahs11 The Starets, the Empress, and the End of an Empire .... Mary Osborne20 A Man Apart: the Dual Nature of John I Tzimisces.............. Chris Layiii
COMMENTS FROM THE ADVISORThis year has been an eventful year for the Upsilon-UpsilonChapter. The group continued to do all the usual things that have becomepart of our chapter’s heritage, such as the Lecture Series, one of the oldestsuch events on campus. This year we also hosted the Kentucky RegionalPhi Alpha Theta Conference. It was a successful one with twenty twopapers being presented from eight different universities and colleges. Asadvisor, I am quite proud of the chapter as every member participated as amoderator or paper participant. We may be small, but we contribute to thestudy of history.Several of this current group return for another year. This shouldbe an exciting one as we prepare to attend the national conference held inAlbuquerque, New Mexico. This should be a great conference althoughraising money to get there will be difficult. But before we look ahead, wepause to say a word to our graduating seniors. May your road ahead besuccessful and remember that you are always a part of us. We will missyou!Eric L. Wake, Ph.DAdvisor, Upsilon-Upsilon Chapter& Chairman, History and Political ScienceCOMMENTS FROM THE EDITORAnother school year has already come and gone, and yet we findourselves wondering once more where the time went. It seems like it wasjust yesterday that I arrived on this campus as a freshman, getting ready tocome into contact with my first history class. Now, coming upon mysenior year, I have had the pleasure of being a first year member of theUpsilon-Upsilon Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, I also experienced my firstKentucky regional conference, and was chosen as this year’s studenteditor for The Upsilonian.It has been my pleasure to work with the very talented peoplewhose works are being published in the 2006-2007 edition of our journal.Jay Hannahs, Chris Lay, and Mary Osborne all demonstrate their passionand commitment to the study of history by writing and researching pastand significant events that our predecessors have experienced.I would like to express a special thank you to Dr. Bruce Hicks whoserved as the Chairman of the Board for this year’s edition of TheUpsilonian. I would also like to thank the faculty of the History andPolitical Science Department, students Stephanie Ray, Sarah Whitaker,and the Department’s Administrative Assistant Mrs. Fay Partin for all ofthe assistance they provided to the journal as well. Last but certainly notleast, I would like to thank Dr. Eric Wake for being such a hardworkingand dedicated advisor to our chapter.I would like to wish great success to the graduating members ofthe Upsilon-Upsilon Chapter as they are about to embark on a newjourney in their lives. Good luck and we will miss you!ivWhitney Gooch, Student EditorUpsilon-Upsilon, 2006-2007
COMMENTS FROM THE PRESIDENTGreetings!I want to take the opportunity to thank you for picking up this copy, VolumeXVIII, of The Upsilonian. I hope you enjoy the papers you find inside.This past year has been an eventful year for University of the Cumberlands, andfor the Upsilon-Upsilon Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. The 2006-2007 school yearwas our thirty-third year since being founded in 1974. In the previous year,Upsilon-Upsilon won its twenty-ninth Best Chapter Award, all of them coming inthe past thirty years.This year we also hosted four lectures on campus. These lectures covered avariety of topics from John Calvin to Natty Bumppo. We held our semi-annualbook and bake sales, and we hosted the Kentucky Regional Conference in March,our fourth time doing so. Seven colleges and universities from across Kentucky,and one from West Virginia, traveled to Williamsburg to take part in theconference. The conference was also host to the President-Elect of the NationalPhi Alpha Theta, Dr. James Ramage, Regents Professor of History at NorthernKentucky University.As a group, membership is strong. Our current membership roll of elevenundergraduates is the largest number that it has been in several years. MaryOsborne, a junior and President-Elect for the 2007-2008 school year, won the2006 Undergraduate Essay Prize sponsored by the United States Branch of theWestern Front Association and Phi Alpha Theta. She was awarded for her paper“Fighting in the Trenches of the Mind: How the Committee on Public Information‘Held Fast the Inner Lines’ in 1917-1918.” Such accomplishments deserverecognition, congratulations Mary!Please read on, and enjoy the articles you find within this journal.Jay HannahsPresident, Upsilon-Upsilon2006-2007v
AUTHORSJay Hannahs is a senior with an area inSocial Studies. He served as President ofUpsilon-Upsilon this year. The original draftof his paper was written for the DepartmentalCapstone course.Mary Osborne is a rising Senior at theUniversity with a history major and minors inEnglish and French. The original draft of thispaper was written for Russia, an upper levelcourse.Chris Lay is a rising Senior at the Universitywith double majors in history and religionand philosophy. His original draft waswritten for the Historical Methods class, arequired course for history majors.vi
A New Look from Above: Eisenhower, the U-2, and DeterrenceBy Jay HannahsFollowing the Second World War [WWII], the United States [US] and theUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics [USSR] were involved in the Cold War. Asthe Cold War extended into the 1950s, the U-2, a high-altitude spy plane, becamethe most important means of gathering intelligence on the USSR by US PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower, a self-described moderate. 1 Eisenhower believed himselfto be “a man of peace,” and felt that the use of military force should be limitedand play only a minor role in the formation of foreign policy. 2 However, likemany of his contemporaries, he was an opponent of the spread of Communism,and he saw the Communist USSR as a direct threat to the security of the US.As the president, Eisenhower believed it was his duty to protect thecountry, and he wished to use the U-2 to gain intelligence that would prevent asurprise attack on the US from the Soviets. He wished to do so while alsolimiting arms production and spending on new weapons, and limiting the size ofthe military. Eisenhower believed that his policies were in the best interest of theUS, and that it was not necessary to build up large stockpiles of missiles and largerockets without evidence that the Soviets were doing the same. The intelligencegained from the flights of the U-2 spy plane provided this information, andenabled Eisenhower to avoid a potentially dangerous and financially cripplingarms race. He did this despite the fierce opposition from many governmentalleaders from both parties who believed he was leaving the US vulnerable to aSoviet attack, and creating a “missile gap” between the US and USSR.In the beginning of his second year in office, Eisenhower announced hispolicy of strategic deterrence, or what was later known as his “New Look” policy.It stated that “the survival of the free world depended on the maintenance by theUnited States of a sound, strong economy,” 3 and this required balanced budgetsand responsible taxation. The center-piece of its defense policy was the hydrogenbomb, and how the threat of its use could be used to avoid an attack by theSoviets. This is what Secretary of State John Foster Dulles called “massiveretaliatory power.” The US had the H-bomb and was able to strike the USSRwith force, but Dulles clarified his statement by saying that the US would notrevert to all-out nuclear war to meet all contingencies. He stated that they woulddevelop the “flexibility” to have several responses, and use the bomb only inextreme instances. The “necessary art” of the New Look was the ability to beprepared to reach the brink of war without entering into one. 4This policy was in contrast to Eisenhower’s predecessor Harry S Truman’spolicy of preparing for maximum danger and spending money in a “futile effort”to surpass or at least match the Soviets in every arms category. 5 With this newpolicy, Eisenhower announced that the most valued asset in the US was its youngmen, and that the US should not put them at any further risk than was necessary.At the time of his inauguration, the Army stood at one million men, which wasthe largest peacetime Army in American history. Eisenhower described calls foran increase as “irresponsible.” 6 His first Secretary of Defense, Charles E. Wilson,1
2described the New Look as “fewer conventional forces, more atomic firepower,less cost.” 7 This policy remained constant throughout his presidency, andalthough it was somewhat costly, the U-2 ultimately helped the US to save moneyas its use prevented the US from needlessly spending money on stockpiles ofweapons.Upon entering the White House in 1953, Eisenhower almost immediatelyopened a correspondence with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom [UK],Winston S. Churchill. The subject of many of these letters and several meetingswas combating the spread of Communism and Soviet influence in world events.While the two wished to see the end of Communism, they also desired three-partytalks with the emerging Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in hopes of reaching apeace agreement. This proved a tough task at the time because of the powerstruggle within the USSR that followed Josef Stalin’s death in 1953. Churchilland Eisenhower made strides in their effort, leading the latter to say that he mayhave been wrong in his “conclusion that the men in the Kremlin are not to betrusted.” 8 Even with this progress, the two leaders agreed it was necessary tokeep an eye on the USSR, but were concerned by the great task of infiltrating anextremely closed police state.Since the important military and technical targets Eisenhower wished tosee were static, he knew that the best means to obtain the imagery intelligence[IMINT] was to get close to the target or by flying directly over it with long-rangecameras. 9 The US discussed several means of gaining IMINT from the air withballoons, aircraft, and artificial satellites, and began using unmanned balloons inJanuary 1956. 10 Project Genetrix, as it was known, was very troublesome, and theUS knew it had to find a better means of gathering the intelligence. Existingmanned reconnaissance aircraft lacked the speed and altitude capacities to evadeSoviet anti-aircraft missiles and fighters, and were scrapped in favor of thedeveloping alternative. That alternative was found in the U-2 project.The plans for the U-2 were presented to Eisenhower in 1954 by acommittee of experts, known as the Surprise Attack Panel, which he hadestablished to study ways to reduce the likelihood of a Soviet strike on the US.The chair of the committee, and the man who would later become its namesake,James R. Killian, and the chair of a subcommittee concerned with intelligencegathering, Edward Land, recommended that the president look into developing areconnaissance satellite that could take photos over the USSR. The committee,however, recognized that the technology for such a project remained a few yearsaway, and recommended a second option, the development of the high-altitudeaircraft that was already being designed by Clarence L. Johnson at Lockheed. 11The aircraft would be able to fly higher than Soviet planes and beyond therange of anti-aircraft guns, and it would be equipped with a camera that couldtake photographs that clearly showed objects from altitudes of upwards of 80,000feet. 12 The panel felt that the proposal was sensitive and therefore it wasnecessary to only present it to Eisenhower directly, and not to the entire NationalSecurity Council [NSC]. 13 The report also called for “a sense of urgency withoutdespair” 14 in constructing the aircraft. With these proposals, and a strong
4The US had been able to gain some intelligence on the Soviets, butbecause of the protests, Eisenhower ordered that no further flights be madewithout his approval. The initial flights showed that the U-2 was able to live upto its billing, and for each of the flights, Eisenhower was very hands-on with theplanning. Before each flight, Bissell presented a map with the projected flightplan to the president, who studied it as he asked questions about the importance ofcertain targets. Eisenhower believed that there were some areas where the flightsmay have been “a little exposed,” and suggested that the flight go from “B to D”while skipping one site. With the president’s go-ahead, it was left up to Bissell tomake the final decision on flight times, and to notify Eisenhower and his staff asto the mission. 23In 1956, the US established additional U-2 bases in Adana, Turkey,Atsuri, Japan and Peshawar, Pakistan. The flights resumed in the spring of 1957but were done sparingly. These flights were able to gain IMINT of strategic basesand installations in Eastern Europe, western USSR, Ukraine, Siberia, theKamchatka Peninsula, Soviet Central Asia and the test sites at Semipalatinsk andTyuratam – the “Soviet Cape Canaveral.” 24 With the photographs from theseflights showing only limited arms developments, Eisenhower saw that his plan forarm limitations could be carried through, but opponents to his policy gained somespeed in the fall of 1957 with the Soviet launch of the world’s first artificialsatellite.The American psyche was delivered a major blow with the Soviet launchof Sputnik on 4 October 1957, and Eisenhower’s opponents seemed to haveevidence to support their arguments that the president was allowing the country tofall behind the Soviets in a race for scientific and technological superiority. Newsof the launch had been preceded by their first successful launch of an intercontinentalballistic missile [ICBM] just a few weeks earlier; a feat thatKhrushchev said demonstrated the Soviets’ ability to launch a missile “into anypart of the world.” 25 Eisenhower’s administration had been well aware of theSoviet space intentions, and the intelligence from the most concentrated cluster ofU-2 flights in the history of the entire program 26 had given him hard evidence thatthe Soviets were preparing a satellite that would be ready for launch in November1957. 27 Eisenhower, however, stated in his memoirs that he was “impress[ed]”and “surprise[d]” by the Soviet achievement, but was most surprised by “theintensity of the public concern.” 28Eisenhower’s public response to the launch was a low-key attempt to calmAmerican anxiety by stating that the US still had the superior defenses of the twosuperpowers. The president claimed that the US remained in balance with theUSSR in rocket and missile programs. He said that the launch of Sputnik posed“no additional threat” to the American people, and that the US bomber defensehad not become obsolete and was not in need of more funding. 29 Eisenhowercontinued by announcing that the US would launch its first satellite in March1958. His speech was meant to convince the US that Sputnik should not raiseconcerns about the security of America “one iota,” but the speech did not have theeffect Eisenhower had intended. 30
5The public out-cry remained, and US missile experts responded to thecharges directed at the administration. Dr. Wernher von Braun, the head of theAmerican missile and rocket program, defended the administration in saying thatthe US had not established a ballistic missile program in the six years thatimmediately followed WWII. In that time, the Soviets, as Braun said, “laid thegroundwork for their large rocket program.” He continued by declaring that the“present dilemma is not due to the fact the we are not working hard enough, butthat we did not work hard enough during the first six to ten years after the war.” 31This statement helped to quell some of the protests, but the American publiccontinued to lose faith in the abilities of the Eisenhower administration to protectthem.Despite the launch of the satellite, Eisenhower remained intent on limitingarms production. In a letter to John Foster Dulles, the president’s frustration withhis political opponents became evident. He stated that the US could not “continueto spend money at home for all the things that our hearts desire and at the sametime do the things that they recommend in the foreign field.” Eisenhower closedthe letter with the statement that “there is a limit to the amount of defense thatmoney can buy.” 32 He knew that the launch was seen as a great scientific advanceby a country believed to be backward. He saw the political outrage, but remainedconfident that the US was capable of defending against an attack from the USSR.More political pressures would come in the days following the launch, andEisenhower would question how to release some of the information that he hadgained from the U-2.Four days after the launch of Sputnik II on 3 November 1957, the GaitherCommittee, a committee of civilian consultants headed by H. Rowan Gaither ofthe Ford Foundation whose primary cause was to report on the passive anddefensive policies of the NSC, 33 released a report to the president that was inopposition to his arms limitation policy. The committee stated that the Sovietshad hostile intentions, and they were essentially predicting “the end of Westerncivilization.” 34 The report included estimates that the numbers of ICBMs beingproduced by the USSR were at the maximum levels that far exceeded those of theUS. 35 It emphasized both an inadequacy of US defense preparations for theprotection of the American people and a vulnerability of the country’s strategicnuclear forces to a Soviet attack. The committee recommended that Eisenhowerapprove spending that would strengthen and enlarge America’s nuclear ballisticmissile capabilities and construct fallout shelters to protect the public. 36 TheGaither Report condemned Eisenhower’s foreign policy and the spending limitsthat he had placed on defense. It was also the document that gave the world theterm “missile gap.” 37Following leaks of portions of the report’s contents, “missile gap” becamewell-known and widely-used by those who doubted Eisenhower. These criticsincluded many Democratic senators such as Lyndon B. Johnson, StuartSymington, and Henry Jackson. 38 The outrage of these public figures spilled intothe population and an opinion poll showed that 53 percent of Americans believed
6that Eisenhower’s defense policies were allowing the US to fall behind theSoviets and that the policies needed to be reexamined. 39Eisenhower looked at the report and dismissed most of itsrecommendations. He knew that he needed to look at the economic effects ofmaking such decisions, and saw that to accept them all would create budgetdeficits and inflation. 40 In 1955, the US built Polaris, a weapons system thatcould launch a missile from a submarine, giving the US a mobile launch platformto hit an enemy target. 41 Moreover, earlier in 1958 the NSC had looked into waysof economically improving and reorganizing American defenses and preparationsfor attack, including the developments of ICBMs and intermediate range ballisticmissiles [IRBMs]. The information in the Gaither Report may not have given theadministration “revolutionary new ideas,” but it was information that “helped,pushed and prodded” the president and his staff to review their policy further. 42The demands of “the Establishment” to increase spending, build shelters, and todevelop and build up new arms grew, but Eisenhower stood his ground against hiscritics and continually fought them off until the end of his time in office. Thiswas what historian Stephen E. Ambrose argued was Eisenhower’s “finest gift tothe nation.” His “calm, common-sense, deliberate response” saved the countryfrom unnecessarily spending billions of dollars, and from war scares that wouldresult from an arms race. 43The president opted to continue to rely on his intelligence, especially thatgathered by the reconnaissance flights. These flights allowed Eisenhower tomaintain his position to cut spending in the long run. From the IMINT received,he and his administration could see that the Soviet development of missiles andweaponry was not as advanced as many “fear-mongers” in the US had claimed. 44The president held fast to his point-of-view when defending himself in publicwithout revealing the source of the information. In a letter to his close friend,Edward “Swede” Hazlett, Eisenhower, without releasing the details of what heknew about the Soviets through his reconnaissance, stated that there were “manythings that [he did not] dare to allude to publicly,” although he knew it “would domuch to allay the fears” of the Americans. 45Even with his great faith in the program, Eisenhower was, however,growing ever more uncertain as to how much longer he could continue the use ofthe U-2. Apprehensive of the possibility that the Soviets were developing thearms to shoot down the spy planes, the president flew only one flight over theUSSR in the days that immediately followed Sputnik’s launch. He authorized oneflight in March 1958, and the program was again suspended until April 1959. 46Eisenhower was well-aware that the US was developing other flight programs andimproved cameras that would eventually replace the U-2.Eisenhower’s foreign policy was making strides toward reaching apeaceful solution to the Cold War. Over the course of his presidency, theAmerican population had come to believe that a peaceful settlement could bereached with the USSR. In 1951, only 44 percent believed that a settlement couldbe reached, but in February 1960, that number was up to 66 percent. 47 Despitethis, the administration was still being called on by Americans to improve its
7deterrent forces. Eisenhower remained steadfast in his belief that there was nomissile gap, but knew the only way to prove his point was to reveal the U-2program, which he contended was not an option. 48 He stood by his program, andhis belief in working for peace and disarmament.The president’s efforts were beginning to have an effect on Khrushchev,and the US and USSR agreed to meet, along with the French and British, for asummit in Paris set to begin 15 May 1960. 49 The summit would never happen,however, as the world finally gained knowledge of the U-2 in May 1960. Overthe central Ural Mountains, a U-2 flown by Frances Gary Powers was shot downby a Soviet SA-2 anti-aircraft missile. 50 Powers’ mission was to fly overTyuratam, and then on to the north to photograph several other Soviet bases andon to his final destination in Norway. 51 The date of this flight had significancebecause it was May Day in Russia, a “grimly festive occasion” in which theUSSR paraded its military might through Moscow’s Red Square for the entireworld to see. 52 The days that followed were some of the most trying ofEisenhower’s presidency. The original cover story that the U-2 was only aweather research plane was quickly rejected by the Soviets, and later retractedwhen the Soviets produced Powers alive. 53 On 11 May, Eisenhower admitted toapproving the flights, and said that the U-2s had been a “vital necessity” due tothe Russians making a “fetish of secrecy and concealment.” Eisenhowercontinued by stating that the flights would go on. 54 Although he had admitted thatthe flights were approved by him, Eisenhower still withheld the information thatthe flights had been sent to find, and the information that they had alreadyproduced. 55 The Summit was abandoned, and Eisenhower’s hopes for peace withthe Soviets were dashed.The U-2’s importance was well understood by the administration. It wasable to gain information with more speed, accuracy and dependability than anyagent on the ground. In June 1960, Secretary of Defense Thomas S. Gates, Jr.testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the U-2 flights had giveninformation on airfields, aircraft, missiles, missile testing and training, specialweapons storage, submarine production, atomic production and aircraftdeployment. He stated, “These results were considered in formulating ourmilitary programs.” 56 This statement summed up the U-2 program’s contributionto the Eisenhower administration.The charges that Eisenhower’s refusal to increase spending hadcontributed to a “missile gap” became a central topic of the presidential electionof 1960. While Eisenhower was not running for the post, the Democrats and JohnF. Kennedy used the term in their attempt to win the White House. As thecampaign surged on, two of Eisenhower’s closest political allies turned againsthim. Eisenhower’s Vice President Richard M. Nixon, the Republican presidentialcandidate, and Nelson Rockefeller accepted the missile gap as a problem thatneeded to be addressed. In the end, Kennedy won the election, but his Secretaryof Defense, Robert S. McNamara, delivered some vindication for Eisenhowerwhen he confessed in 1964 that there had never been a missile gap. 57
8The intelligence gathered by the U-2 was the most vital information usedby President Eisenhower, in creating policy for disarmament and deterrenceregarding the USSR. Despite the calls of many Americans to approve increasedspending on military and defense weaponry, Eisenhower held firm to his position.The myth of the “missile gap” was created and fostered by his critics, yet thepresident still held his ground. At the time of his administration, Eisenhower’spolicies were not popular with the American people, but in retrospect, thephotographs gained from the U-2 saved the population from the costs of an armsrace with the Soviets.ENDNOTES1 Vincent P. de Santis, “Eisenhower Revisionism,” The Review of Politics 38, no. 2 (April1976), 192.2 Richard M. Saunders, “Military Force in the Foreign Policy of the EisenhowerPresidency,” Political Science Quarterly 100, no. 1 (Spring 1985): 99.3 Richard V. Damms, The Eisenhower Presidency: 1953-1961 (London: PearsonEducation, 2002), 30.4 Ibid., 33.5 Charles C. Alexander, Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961(Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1975), 66-67.6 Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower vol. 2, The President (New York: Simon & Schuster,Inc., 1984), 171.7 Ibid.8 Dwight D. Eisenhower to Winston Spencer Churchill, July 8, 1954, in The Papers ofDwight David Eisenhower, eds. Louis Galambos and Daun Van Ee, vol. XV, no. 968 (Baltimore:The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 1171.9 Allen Dulles, The Craft of Intelligence (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 67.77.10 Peter G. Boyle, Eisenhower (Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2005), 76-11 Killian was the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Land wasthe president of the Polaroid Corporation and inventor of the Polaroid camera. George. J. A.O’Toole, Honorable Treachery: A History of U.S. Intelligence, Espionage, and Covert Actionfrom the American Revolution to the CIA (New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1991), 465-66.12 Ray S. Cline, Secrets, Spies and Scholars: Blueprints of the Essential CIA(Washington: Acropolis Press, 1976), 155.13 David L. Snead, The Gaither Committee, Eisenhower, and the Cold War (Columbus,OH: The Ohio State University Press, 1999), 40.
914 Blanche Wiesen Cook, The Declassified Eisenhower: A Divider Legacy (Garden City,NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1981), 168.15 Harold Stassen and Marshall Houts, Eisenhower: Turning the World toward Peace (St.Paul, MN: Merrill/Magnus Publishing Corporation, 1990), 339.16 Ibid.17 O’Toole, Honorable Treachery, 466.18 Victor Rosenberg, Soviet-American Relations, 1953-1960: Diplomacy and CulturalExchange during the Eisenhower Presidency (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2005),78-79.19 Stephen E. Ambrose, Ike’s Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment(Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1999), 271.20 Ibid., 265-66, 272.21 Elmo Richardson, The Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower (Lawrence, KS: TheRegents Press of Kansas, 1979), 172.22 Boyle, Eisenhower, 77.23 Ambrose, Ike’s Spies, 272-73.24 O’Toole, Honorable Treachery, 467.25 Dwight D. Eisenhower, The White House Years: Waging Peace, 1956-1961 (GardenCity, NY: Doubleday &Company, Inc., 1965), 205.26 Between 4 August and 28 August 1957, eight U-2 flights operated over Sovietterritory; Boyle, Eisenhower, 106.27 Damms, Eisenhower Presidency, 63.28 Eisenhower, Waging Peace, 205-06.29 The bomber program was receiving about $5 billion annually; Damms, EisenhowerPresidency, 6430 Ibid., 65.31 Eisenhower, Waging Peace, 206.32 Eisenhower to John Foster Dulles, October 14, 1957, in Papers of Eisenhower vol.XVIII, no. 386, 493-94.33 Damms, Eisenhower Presidency, 65.34 Ambrose, Eisenhower vol. 2, 434.35 Snead, The Gaither Committee, 127.
1036 Ibid., 1-2.37 Wiesen Cook, The Declassified Eisenhower, 168.38 Boyle, Eisenhower, 95.39Hazel Gaudet Erskine, ed., “The Polls: Defense, Peace and Space,” The Public OpinionQuarterly 25, no. 3 (Autumn 1961): 483.40 Estimates showed that to follow through with the Gaither recommendations wouldhave increased defense appropriations for the president from $38 billion per year to about $48billion. Most of the appropriations would go to the construction of enough fallout shelters tohouse every American at a cost of about $100 per person over 5 years; Ambrose, Eisenhower vol.2, 434.41 Eisenhower, Waging Peace, 483.42 Snead, The Gaither Committee, 129-30.43 The “Establishment” included the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller brothers, the JointChiefs of Staff, and Congress; Ambrose, Eisenhower vol. 2, 435.44 Boyle, Eisenhower, 94-95.45 Dwight D. Eisenhower to Edward Everett Hazlett, Jr., November 18, 1957 in Papers ofEisenhower vol. XVIII, no. 457, 574.46 Boyle, Eisenhower, 106.47 Erskine, “The Polls: Defense, Peace and Space,” 487.48 Ambrose, Eisenhower vol. 2, 563.49 James A. Nathan, “A Fragile Détente; The U-2 Incident Re-examined,” MilitaryAffairs 39, no. 3 (October 1975): 98.50 Cline, Secrets, Spies and Scholars, 157.51 Michael R Beschloss, MAYDAY: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair (NewYork: Harper & Row, 1986), 168.32.52 David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, The U-2 Affair (New York: Random House, 1962),53 Ibid., 36.54 Nathan, “A Fragile Détente,” 99.55 Ambrose, Ike’s Spies, 278.56 Dulles, The Craft of Intelligence, 67-68.57 Ambrose, Ike’s Spies, 278.
The Starets, the Empress, and the End of an EmpireBy Mary OsborneOn March 15, 1917, Nicholas II, Emperor of all Russia, abdicated thethrone for himself and his son, Alexis. 1 Although Nicholas had been the tsarsince 1894, rumors suggested that since the beginning of the Great War, he wasnot in control of Russia. “The Tsar reigns but the Tsarina govern,” as someonesuccinctly quipped. 2 Indeed, many officials were convinced that the EmpressAlexandra has undermined the autocracy while her husband commanded thearmies at the front. The Russian people believed, however, that she had not actedalone. The corrupt starets, the “holy” man, Grigory Rasputin, really controlledRussia, for he controlled the Empress. His whim was her command. Therefore,the people blamed them rather than the vacillating Nicholas for their desperatesituation. The combination of Alexandra’s reliance on Rasputin’s opinion onstate affairs and the lurid rumors about their relationship precipitated the end ofimperial Russia.The incredulous have asked, “How could an illiterate, immoral peasantrise to such a powerful position?” The answer lay in Rasputin’s immense abilityto manipulate the impressionable Empress. As a girl, the shy Alexandra, betterknown as Alix, was an extremely devout Lutheran. She first met Nicholas, thentsarevitch, in 1889, and they fell deeply in love. Her religion presented anobstacle to their marriage, but after much deliberation, she converted to RussianOrthodoxy on October 21, 1894. 3 Later that year they became engaged, despitehis parents’ misgivings. 4 Not only did Nicholas’ parents dislike Alexandra, butthe people doubted her as well. After all, she was a German, even though she hadbeen raised by her English grandmother, Queen Victoria. Historian Sir BernardPares pronounced, “She [Alexandra] was an entirely good woman and entirelyVictoria, which was one of the chief reasons of her unpopularity in the society ofSt. Petersburg.” 5 Russians perceived her extreme shyness and introverted natureas aloofness and arrogance. Her austerity especially manifested itself as she andNicholas accompanied Alexander III’s funeral train throughout Russia. Thepublic gaze petrified her, and she shunned large gatherings.The people’s aspersions proved unjust. Contrary to popular opinion,Alexandra loved Russia. She later explained to a lady-in-waiting, “It is thecountry of my husband and my son. I have lived a life of a happy wife andmother in Russia.” 6 She ardently upheld the autocracy and desired to dowhatever she could to help Nicholas, who felt unprepared to be tsar. All of hislife he had distanced himself from the Russian court and politics, but now, Godhad appointed him as the next tsar. Alexandra distrusted her husband’s advisorsand wanted to protect her beloved Nicholas and the dynasty from discredit. Sheonce remarked to a confidante, “I feel that all who surround my husband areinsincere, and no one is doing his duty for Russia.” 7The Empress strove to perform her duty for Russia -- producing an heir tothe throne. Much to her disappointment, she had given birth to four girls, and theabsence of a male heir endangered the Romanov dynasty. Alexandra,11
12nevertheless, trusted that God would answer her prayer. Desperate to prove herpiety, she dabbled in mysticism and soon became a faithful follower. Influencedby the religious practices of the fourteenth century, she sought the counsel ofalleged holy men. Supposedly endowed with grace, these “friends of God” actedas mediators between the petitioner and God. 8 Finally, God answeredAlexandra’s prayer, and on August 12, 1904, she gave birth to a son, Alexis. 9 TheEmpress, at last, had proved herself worthy in the sight of the people. Rejoicingfilled the palace until Alexis’ bruises began to appear. Grimly, the doctorsdiagnosed that he had inherited the dreaded hemophilia from his mother. Anysudden movement could trigger an excruciating attack during which poolingblood pressed against the joints and nerves. The tsarevitch would very likely diein infancy, since no effective treatment existed to control the bleeding.Guilt ridden, Alexandra wholly devoted herself to her son’s care. Sheblamed herself for his condition. Following the diagnosis, “she became troubledand apprehensive, her character underwent a change and her health, physical aswell as moral, altered.” 10 She made it her mission to keep Alexis alive, whateverthe means. She obsessed with finding a miraculous cure and thus delved deeperinto Russian Orthodoxy and mysticism. In fact, she had heard from severalfriends that a certain holy peasant might be able to help her son. Both BishopTheophan, their Majesties’ confessor, and the Princesses Militsa and AnastasiaNikolaevna, in-laws of Alexandra and Nicholas, had told the royal couple about apeasant from Tobolsk who allegedly possessed extraordinary hypnotic powers. 11His name was Grigory Efimovich Rasputin. No one knew very much about hisbackground except that he was a peasant who had become a wandering monk.Some called him a “starets,” a man whose high moral qualities and holy lifemade him a spiritual leader. Rasputin, though, led a life that was far from holy.He espoused that man must sin in order to repent and obtain salvation, and hebelonged to a religious sect called the khlysty which engaged in debauchery to“purify” their souls. 12Perhaps Bishop Theophan and the Princesses Nikolaevna did not know orchose to ignore the facts regarding Rasputin’s reputation. In spite of hisquestionable character, Nicholas and Alexandra received him on November 1,1905. 13 They beheld a singularly unsavory individual with long, reddish hair andbeard, scarred face, and the most extraordinary eyes. A strange power glowedfrom those ethereal, bluish-gray eyes. 14 Rasputin displayed an uncommonfamiliarity with his sovereigns -- he kissed them during the first encounter!Moreover, he never addressed formally but called them “Mama” and “Papa.” Hewon their trust, nevertheless, especially Alexandra’s. Her love for Alexis causedher to place unwavering faith in Rasputin’s healing abilities.Alexis’ numerous attacks often tested her faith, but a word from FatherGrigory, as he came to be called, instantly reassured her. He always appeared atexactly the right time to attend to the tsarevitch. After a few moments alone withRasputin, Alexis would begin to recover. Rasputin permitted very few people inthe room when he ministered to the child, but those present noted that he only hadto pray or look into Alexis eyes for Alexis to improve. Once after Alexis injured
13himself during a boating trip, Rasputin merely sent a telegram bearing themessage “Your son will live,” and Alexis indeed survived. 15Skeptics theorize that Rasputin and one of the palace physicians, PeterBadmaev, were in collusion. Whenever Alexis fell ill, Badmaev would keepRasputin informed of the heir’s condition. When the worst had passed, Badmaevsecretly alerted Rasputin. On the other hand, Rasputin’s supporters have accusedBadmaev of slowly poisoning Alexis until Alexandra summoned Rasputin. 16Still, others have suggested that Rasputin’s ability to calm Alexis sped up hisrecoveries. In the 1960s, doctors indeed discovered that reducing tension canslow or even stop bleeding. 17Healer or charlatan, Rasputin’s actual reputation mattered little.Alexandra possessed a real idée fixe that her son’s life depended on Rasputin’scontinual presence. In addition, he was an oracle: as a peasant, he knew thepeople’s needs. Author Michael Florinsky states, “He was held to be the livingembodiment of the third element of the sacred formula: orthodoxy, autocracy,and nationality.” 18 Rasputin was the sovereigns’ link to the masses. Yet,Alexandra’s choice of confidantes failed to improve the people’s opinion of her.According to Princess Catherine Radziwill, “Following the introduction ofRasputin into her household this aversion which she inspired grew to aphenomenal extend.” 19Alexandra refused to acknowledge the intelligence reports describing thepublic’s attitude toward her. Her mission to preserve the monarchy for her sonblinded her to the reality of the increasing unrest among the masses. Often, thismission induced her to meddle in church and state affairs, and she frequentlyconsulted Rasputin. Alexandra never questioned his advice, for she believedwhole-heartedly that Rasputin was holy. As Christ incarnate, he could not lie toher. By early 1911, Rasputin’s involvement in policy-making had begun,appearing innocent initially. At his request, his friend, a semi-illiterate monknamed Varnava, was appointed as a prelate (clergy member) in Tobolsk. 20 Later,V. K. Sabler, another associate of Rasputin’s, became chief procurator or leaderof the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church. AfterAlexandra took control of the Synod in 1915, she replaced anyone who evenremotely disagreed with Rasputin or who appeared to undermine Nicholas. 21Ironically, her appointees’ reputations did more to undermine Nicholas’sposition than any difference of opinion in the Church. The tsar, whom Russiansconsidered holy, began to symbolize a corrupt Church. Many of the newappointees were suspected of having connections with the khlysty or were accusedof sodomy. These men pledged their loyalty not to the tsar but to Rasputin. Ashistorian Richard Charques writes, “The decline of the Church continued, itsauthority ever more deeply compromised by…the subservience of several of itsprinces to Rasputin.” 22As World War I progressed into 1915, the stability of the state began toweaken. Lack of supplies, guns, and ammunition resulted in several Germanvictories at the Battles of Gorlice and Lvov. Even though the British AmbassadorGeorge Buchanan arranged for shells to be sent to the Russian armies, the
14monarchy still could not meet the demands of the war. 23 Poor military tactics didnot cause the defeats, yet Alexandra blamed Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich,the commander-in-chief of the armies. She lamented to Nicholas, “Would God….. were another man & had not turned against a man of Gods, that always bringsbad luck to their work..” 24 Nikolaevich had rejected Rasputin’s counsel andoccupied the position that rightfully belonged to the tsar. After much thought andprayer, Alexandra urged her husband to personally assume control of the armies.She reminded him that it was his duty as tsar, and he needed to maintain contactwith the troops. 25The cabinet ministers and the members of parliament’s lower house, theDuma, protested Alexandra’s meddling. If Nicholas took command of the armies,he would receive only criticism for replacing the popular Nikolaevich but alsoblame for any future defeats. They questioned how the tsar would manage bothmilitary and political affairs. Some government officials were suspicious ofAlexandra’s motives as well. They suspected she wanted Nicholas away fromstate affairs in order for her and Rasputin to assume control. V. M. Purishkevich,a Duma member, compared Rasputin to Grisha Otrepov, one of the false Dmitriswho appeared during the Time of Troubles. Purishkevich regarded Rasputin as ausurper, but although Rasputin was clever, he knew little of politics. WithAlexandra and him in charge, the cabinet predicted that the Duma woulddisintegrate and the monarchy would collapse. Eight of the thirteen Cabinetministers drew up a statement which warned the tsar “…to the best of ourjudgment your decision threatens with serious consequences Russia, yourdynasty, and your person.” 26 S. D. Sazonov, the minister of foreign affairs,“considered that the war could be won only through the achievement of aharmonious and steady collaboration between the government and the public.” 27The public would not cooperate with a woman whom they judged to be anoutsider, and Russia would certainly lose the war without a united home front. Aslong as Nicholas remained in St. Petersburg, the people could trust in thefigurehead, and the ensuing spirit of nationalism might foster reconciliationbetween them and their sovereign. 28In spite of his ministers’ arguments, Nicholas capitulated to Alexandra.She had instructed him, “you are to pay less attention to what people will say toyou, not let yourself be influenced by them.” 29 What the cabinet feared had cometo pass. Now, Alexandra’s obsession with absolute rule would dash any hope ofrestoring nationalism and harmony in Russia. She dealt with issues upon whichshe was ignorant--food supply, transportation, and military appointments. Notwanting to be held responsible for future disasters, Sazonov, the Minister ofAgriculture A. A. Krivoshein, and the Minister of War A. A. Polivanovresigned. 30 Alexandra then swiftly replaced the remaining ministers who opposedNicholas’s decision with men who passed Rasputin’s examination. That “test”simply consisted of Rasputin determining the state of the prospective minister’ssoul by staring into his eyes. In retrospect, the test failed miserably, forAlexandra approved corrupt individuals whose presence created scandal andnational instability.
15Some who were connected with the royal family believed that Rasputinselected incompetent men to carry out his secret political agenda to destroy themonarchy. In reality, the uneducated monk knew and cared little about politics.He ascribed to no specific political course other than to ensure his prominence atcourt. If a government official disagreed with Alexandra’s decisions, Rasputinthreatened him with dismissal. His power depended on the Romanovs remainingin power. He retained his position by manipulating all who surrounded him andorganized an “intimate circle which soon transferred its activities to widerspheres, first interfering in Church matters an finally in affairs of State, removingpopular statesmen and replacing them with its own nominees.” 31Two of Rasputin’s protoégés, in particular, contributed to the collapse ofthe government: B. V. Stürmer and A. D. Protopopov. Stürmer had previouslypresided over both the ministries of the interior and foreign affairs, although hehad no experience in either. In 1916, he became prime minister without any kindof political program planned except Alexandra and Rasputin’s. 32 He met secretlywith Rasputin once a week at the Fortress of SS Peter and Paul for instructions.Stürmer’s every action centered on his presiding over the peace conference at theend of the war. Under his leadership, labor unrest and riots intensified. Themilitary was in shambles, and everyone could sense that the end of the empirewas approaching. Since Rasputin detested war, he went to great lengths to try toconclude a separate peace with Germany. He enlisted the help of the Duma’svice-president Protopopov, even though he suffered from advanced physical andmental deterioration. Rasputin promised him control of the ministry of theinterior if he would secretly negotiate with Germany for an armistice. The talksbegan in July 1916 but quickly broke down because Protopopov refused to grantGermany Polish territory. He became minister of the interior that year, despitethe failed negotiations, and remained in office until the Revolution in March1917. 33 With Rasputin’s puppets in control, the relationship between the Dumaand the Cabinet rapidly deteriorated. The idea which began to fester ineveryone’s mind was “’is this stupidity or is it treason?’” 34 In November 1916,Duma member M. Miluikov openly voiced these accusations against Alexandraand Stürmer. 35 The inept prime minister could not deal with the growing needs ofa modernizing society. The government’s instability affected the war effort whichfloundered as the fighting dragged on. As calamity threatened the empire, thepessimistic Russians denounced Alexandra as a traitor. Referenced to Nemka,“the German,” filled the newspapers.Rumors of Alexandra and Rasputin’s relationship fueled public hatred ofthe empress and consequently, the monarchy. They had no knowledge of Alexis’illness or of Rasputin’s contact with him. Although censors forbade newspapersto mention Rasputin, the authorities could not adequately enforce that ban. Wordof Rasputin spread from elaborate soirees hosted by Grand Duchess MariaPavlovna and other society figures. Spies, hired to protect Rasputin, includedconvoluted conversations between him and his guests in their vague reports.These documents, which ministers, grand dukes, and foreign ambassadors read,
16greatly exaggerated Rasputin’s activities. 36 The false but destructive rumors,which the reports spawned, concerned either Rasputin and Alexandra’s treason ortheir personal relationship.The public assumed that Rasputin was a foreign agent conspiring withAlexandra to destroy Russia. 37 Rasputin’s hatred of war, however, did not makehim a German spy. Nor did Alexandra’s German heritage make her acollaborator. One fantastic rumor, possibly started by former Minister of theInterior A. N. Khvostov, stated that Alexandra possessed a secret radiotelegraphwhich she used to communicate battle plans to Germany. 38 What may have beentrue was that Alexandra wrote to her brother Ernest, duke of Hesse-Darmstadt,about the possible conclusion of a separate peace with Germany. 39Although Alexandra herself admitted that Rasputin had no dealings withthe Germans, the people believed the stories; burned Nicholas II in effigy; and cutout his eyes from portraits. Princess Radziwill recalled that “the unpopularity ofthe Empress had extended itself to the person of the Czar himself.” 40 MostRussians no longer upheld the sanctity of the tsar’s image. A monarch who couldnot control his wife was weak and therefore incapable of governing. Alexandrahad sullied the tsar’s reputation and, therefore, desecrated the monarchy bycontinuing to associate with Rasputin.The facts about Rasputin’s own reputation only strengthened theaccusations against Alexandra. For an alleged holy man, Rasputin led a decidedlyunholy life. All classes of men and women frequented his home on the EnglishProspect in St. Petersburg. 41 Eyewitnesses often recounted how Rasputinharassed women into going to bed with him. More surprisingly, many apparentlydid so willingly! The numbers, however, were usually exaggerated. Rasputin“worshipped” wine, women, and song. He loved dancing to folk music, anactivity peasants considered religious, something akin to prayer. St. Petersburgsociety, however, reacted in shock to the reports of Rasputin’s escapades at hisfavorite resort, the Villa Rode. During his visits when he consumed greatquantities of wine, he danced with women until they both collapsed on the floor ina stupor.How did a drunken, disreputable monk attract so many female followers?According to the author René Fülop-Miller, “women found in Grigori Efimovichthe fulfillment of two desires which had hitherto seemed irreconcilable: religioussalvation and the satisfaction of carnal appetites.” 42 They took his slovenlyappearance as a sign of his spirituality and probably equated him with the OldTestament prophets, such as Ezekiel or Jeremiah. Rasputin convinced womenthat by making love to him, he could absolve them from their sins. To those whoaccused him of licentiousness, he replied, “God has granted me freedom frompassion…the spirit of passionless calm passes from me to the women with me, sothat they, too, become pure and holy.” 43 He espoused that it was better to satisfycarnal needs and then ask God’s forgiveness rather than remain a hypocrite.Aware of Alexandra’s religious fanaticism, the people naturally assumed that shewas under his spell.
17The “literature” detailing their sexual exploits was legion. Pamphlets suchas “The Tsarina and Rasputin” sold between 25,000-50,000 copies. 44 One storyinvented by Rasputin’s former friend Illiodor claimed that Rasputin was the fatherof Alexis and had started the war. Plays and films drew large audiences, thoughthe most offensive scenes were deleted. Inexplicably, the newspapers treatedthese fabrications as fact. Most likely the rumors originated from a letterAlexandra allegedly wrote to Rasputin which included these lines: “My Beloved,unforgettable teacher, redeemer and mentor…I wish only one thing: to fallasleep, forever on your shoulders and in your arms.” 45 Those whose minds wereeasily perverted immediately inferred innuendo. However, some historians haveproposed that one of Alexandra’s enemies may have forged the letter. In addition,Alexandra’s biographers note that she wrote to all of her friends in the sameflowery, emotional style. Yes, she loved Rasputin, but in a religious sense. Noone could replace Nicholas as Alexandra’s lover. Her affectionate letters to himattest as much. Though terribly ignorant and misguided, she thought that byobeying Rasputin she was saving Russia.“Now, in 1916, almost everyone considered Rasputin morally responsiblefor all our reverses at the Front and all disorders in the interior,” the GrandDuchess Marie, a niece of Alexandra’s sister Elizabeth, related fourteen yearsafterwards. 46 Deluded, the Russian people ultimately blamed Alexandra forRasputin’s presence. Their relationship had severed the link between God, thetsar, and his people. The public branded Alexandra and Rasputin traitors andclamored for their removal from Russia. Though members of the royal familymurdered Rasputin in December 1916, they could not reverse all the damagecaused by his years at court. 47 His corruptness had spread to the Church and thento the government. Officials accepted bribes and grew rich from the peoples’misery. Nicholas had lost control of his country, and Russians sank further intodespair as their situation worsened. Without an effective, upright ruler in Russia,conditions for revolution were ripe.ENDNOTES1Mark D. Steinberg and Vladimir M. Khrustalv, The Fall of the Romanovs:PoliticalDreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,1996), 97.2Orlando Figes, Interpreting the Russian Revolution: The Language and Symbols of 1917(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 14.3Donald J. Raleigh and Akhmed Iskenderov, The Emperors and Empresses of Russia:Rediscovering the Romanovs, New Russian History (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 1996), 372.4Sir Bernard Pares, The Fall of the Russian Monarchy: A Study of the Evidence (NewYork: Vintage Books, 1939), 34-35.5 Ibid., 131.
186Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra (New York: Athenaeum, 1967), 331.7Pares, Fall of the Russian Monarchy, 38.8 René Fülop-Miller, Rasputin: The Holy Devil (New York: Frederick Ungar PublishingCo., 1928. Reprint, New York: Viking Press, 1962), 113.9Pares, Fall of the Russian Monarchy, 132.1958.10Carolly Erickson, Alexandra: The Last Tsarina (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001),11M. V. Rodzianko, The Reign of Rasputin: An Empire’s Collapse (Halifax, NovaScotia: Dalhousie University Library, 1927. Reprint, Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic InternationalPress, 1973), 4.12 Ibid., 5.13W. Bruce Lincoln, In War’s Dark Shadow: The Russians before the Great War (NewYork: Simon & Schuster, 1986), 382.14Erickson, Last Tsarina, 168.15 Fülop-Miller, Holy Devil, 155.16Maria Rasputin and Patte Barham, Rasputin: The Man behind the Myth, A PersonalMemoir (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977), 178.17 Paul Grabbe and Beatrice Grabbe, eds., The Private World of the Last Tsar: In thePhotographs and Notes of General Count Alexander Grabbe (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1984),161.18 Michael T. Florinsky, The End of the Russian Empire (New York: Collier Books,1971), 59.19 Princess Catherine Radziwill, Rasputin and the Russian Revolution (New York: JohnLane Co., 1918), 20.20 Douglas Myles, Rasputin: Satyr, Saint, or Satan (New York: McGraw-Hill PublishingCo., 1990), 163.21 Evard Radzinsky, The Rasputin File (New York: Nan A. Talese, 2000), 364.22 Richard Charques, The Twilight of Imperial Russia (London: Oxford University Press,1958; Oxford Paperbacks, 1965), 204.23 Michael Hughes, “’Revolution Was in the Air’: British Officials in Russia during theFirst World War,” Journal of Contemporary History 31, no. 1 (1996): 79-80.24Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra, The Complete Wartime Correspondence ofTsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra, Documentary Reference Collections (Westport, CT:Greenwood Press, 1999), 138.25Pares, Fall of the Russian Monarchy, 225.
1926Ibid., 270.27 Leopold H. Haimson, “The Problem of Political and Social Stability in Urban Russiaon the Eve of War and Revolution Revisited,” Slavic Review, 59, no. 4 (2000): 868.28Alexander Kerensky, “Russia on the Eve of World War I,” Russian Review, 5, no. 1(1945): 30.29Nicholas II and Alexandra, Correspondence, 35.30 Ibid., 867.31 Rodzianko, Reign of Rasputin, 29.32 Erickson, Last Tsarina, 255.33 Heinz Liepman, Rasputin and the Fall of Imperial Russia, trans. Edward Fitzgerald(New York: Robert M. McBride Co., 1959), 207.34 Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (Oxford, New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 2001), 38.35 Florinsky, End of the Russian Empire, 70.36 Fülop-Miller, Holy Devil, 192.37 Gary Null, The Conspirator Who Saved the Romanovs (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall, 1971), 71.38Fige, Language and Symbols, 19-20.39 Rodizanko, Rasputin File, 315.40 Radziwill, Rasputin and Revolution, 231.41 Fülop-Miller, Holy Devil, 182.42 Ibid., 207.43 Ibid., 211.44Fige, Language and Symbols, 11.45 Erickson, The Last Tsarina, 199.46 Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, “Consequences, a memoir,” Saturday Evening Post,10 May 1930, 6.47 Alex De Jonge, The Life and Times of Grigorii Rasputin (New York: Coward,McCann and Geoghegan, 1982), 319.
A Man Apart: the Dual Nature of John I TzimiscesBy Chris LayHistory, much as any truly captivating drama, is replete with heroes andvillains, characters who inspire with acts of daring nobility or repulse by vile,deplorable deeds. What, though, is the distinction between the sometimesarbitrary terms “good” and “evil”? What really makes a person one or the other,and can one undergo such change that he is transfigured, delivered from misdeedsor condemned by them? This series of questioning will, ultimately, only promptfurther questions, all of them fairly unanswerable. And yet, individuals ask themanyway, often uncertain of the answer. It is a strangely terrifying bit ofintrospection, to ask what sort of person one is, unsure of the answer that awaits.If John I Tzimisces, ruler of Byzantium, a forgotten man governing aneglected kingdom, were to pose the same questions to himself, he would,doubtless, be no less troubled. For John was all of these things, gallant anddreadful all at once. He was a man of vast contradiction, whose life raises adichotomy of moral choice. He extended charity and goodwill as God’s ViceRegent on Earth, 1 emanating piety and compassion; shrouded over him, however,was the grim specter of death. John’s ascension to ultimate power was hopelesslybrutal and bathed in the stench of innocent blood spilled to fulfill blind ambition.What kind of man was he? He was human, neither purely hero nor villain, butsomething else entirely, something that, perhaps, raises more questions than itanswers.It merits mentioning a bit of history on John’s empire, a civilization lost todark obscurity for most Westerners. The origins of the Byzantine Empire areevident in but one man: Constantine the Great, who would more than earn the titlehe bore. The man who would be emperor was not so grand a ruler – yet; and hisstory does not even begin in his future empire. It starts with Rome. At this point,in 306 A.D., far and away from John’s time of 969, mighty Rome had beenfragmented by imperial decree of Emperor Diocletian in 293, its rule governednot by one, but by four. These were the Tetrarchs, consisting of two senioremperors (called augusti) and two subordinates (termed caesar). 2 Constantine, animpetuous youth, was reluctantly elevated to the latter.In the bickering and scheming that inevitably followed, Constantine wasdetermined to emerge as the champion. Eventually, only Maxentius, son ofembittered former emperor Maximian, remained to vie with the brilliant youngleader for control. Constantine would engage him in battle at Milvian Bridge in312, with the world as the spoils. 3 Here, Constantine exhibited characteristics thatwould define his prospective empire and imparted qualities to govern it by hisexample alone until its fall.Reportedly, he witnessed a blazing emblem sear the sky, a cross; thisdivine revelation inspired his conversion to Christianity (and its subsequentpronouncement as the preferred religion of the Roman people), compelling him tocommand his soldiers to adorn their shields with the Greek symbols chi and rho(the first two letters of “Christ” in that alphabet). He was heard to proclaim “In20
21hoc signo, vincere”: “In this sign, I conquer.” 4 Constantine was true to his word.Utilizing quick, decisive movements, he soon claimed victory over his erstwhilebrother-in-law, cementing himself as ruler of Europe. Moreover, in his piety, hedemonstrated a notable trait that would become intrinsic to his new kingdom -- aChristian kingdom.A strong reliance upon the almighty would give definition toConstantine’s newly formed empire when he transferred the capital east, to arecently established city bearing his namesake, grand, boundless, and lavishlydecorated with the jewels of Rome. 5 Constantinople was its name, perched uponthe shores of the Golden Horn and overlooking the Bosphorus. Here, on thatnarrow strait of water separating the European and Asian ends of modern Turkey,the city was officially dedicated in a high mass in 330. 6 With a name asimpressive as the vast lands it encompassed, Byzantium was born. This was theregion, and, furthermore, the legacy, John I would inherit over six hundred yearslater.With so daunting a foundation, so stately a history to its credit, John alsoinherited immense responsibility; as emperor, his expected duties were myriad.He was the Byzantine basileus, 7 the highest military commander, the supremejudge, and saddled with the imposing duty of sole legislator in an empire ofcountless citizens. The emperor was the living symbol of the Christian Empirethat God, in His infinite wisdom, had humbly chosen, protector and preserver ofthe Church and the Word. 8 John was not merely the ruler of his people. He wasaltogether removed from the very notion of humanity and the earthbound; he wasdivine, and subject only to celestial judgment. Whether or not he satisfied thatdivinity in life is questionable, and will be explored further. It necessitates first,though, a look at his other imperial duties, and an assessment of his conduct infulfilling them.He was not born John Tzimisces, but John Kourkouas, to Armenianmilitary aristocracy. It was as a general – and, moreover, close friend – ofNicephorus II Phocus, his predecessor, that he gained note. In Nicephorus’ largelybloodless drive to the throne in 963, John’s loyalty was never suspect; JosephBringas, political rival of Nicephorus, promised John supreme power over theWest, basileus of the Romans, even, on the singular terms of withdrawal ofsupport. 9 John promptly went to his friend and informed him of the plot,expediting the process to the point that the imperial diadem sat upon Nicephorus’head within days.Nicephorus, though, was a man for whom the word austere was anunderstatement. Exceedingly pious, stern in word and voice, absent of any sort oflevity whatsoever, and entirely monstrous in appearance, it was only a matter oftime before his policies began to reflect his personality, and even less for hisinflexibility to completely harden. 10 But Nicephorus was inarguably a good man,and loved his wife, Theophano, without fail. The same could not be said for theimmaculately beautiful empress. The firm leader was intensely jealous, growingfar more so as the years passed. No longer would Nicephorus sleep in a bed, orwear anything but his uncle’s hair shirt, so strict had his own humility in the face
23tremendous successes of his successor, the young Basil II, whom he, as emperor,claimed as protectorate.In regards to the impetuous Svyatoslav, John, too, acted swiftly. Theyoung Prince of the Rus had unwisely divided his sizeable force into garrisonsdispatched across the Danube basin, in an effort to maintain the empire he carvedfor himself. This allowed John to easily eliminate the scattered bits piecemeal. 17Finally confronting Svyatoslav at Dorystolon in 971, the bold emperor laid thedecisive blow himself, following a pitched struggle, personally commanding acharge of his elite cataphracts 18 that utterly ravaged the Rus into a confusedmess. 19 The Balkans were his, and Kiev would never trouble the Empire as suchagain.John more than left his mark, militarily, beyond a bevy of wartimevictories. Reform of the period was mostly attributed to him, as Nicephorus couldrarely be troubled from his wars to reorganize the army. During his time, infantrybanda 20 of sixteen men were reduced to ten, with an archer to skutatoi 21 ratio ofthree to seven. whilst cavalry winglets were brought from three hundred strong toa far more manageable fifty in divisions known as allaghia. 22 He even drafted hisown elite regiment of cavalry, his Athanatoi, 23 with whom he valiantly charged atDorystolon. 24Units became mixed and recruitment was varied in order to achieve agreater uniformity, as well as reduce religious and ethnic clashes; even Turkishand Iranian Muslims were welcomed into his homogenous army. Cohesive unityinspired parity among the soldiery. Tactically, emphasis was placed on discipline,morale, and faith which John, for his part, encouraged in rigorous and frequentdrilling. That is not to say the Byzantines were above bribing armies andcommanders -- this was, in fact, common practice. 25 John revitalized landcampaigns and promoted remarkable growth of the empire. As a personal leader,he inspired voracious loyalty for his displays of thoughtless courage. Such apronounced imprint continued into the rest of his dominion.Though less glamorous than his military endeavors, John’s bureaucraticreforms were nonetheless potent to the wellbeing of the Empire. Nicephorus’gaping administrative holes were not limited to the military realm. Anotherdifficulty remained: the shaky state of eastern/western relations in regards to theHoly Roman Empire and Otto the Saxon. Showcasing his sterling statesmanship,John solved what his predecessor could never have hoped. In 971, he forged aninsoluble link through the marriage of Otto’s son, Otto II, with a Byzantine bride,sixteen year old Theophano. 26 In a remarkable act of clemency, the adolescentprincess was permitted all of her traditional Byzantine customs in her newhome. 27 This solidified an already stout bond and dispatched, quite handily,another nuisance for John.Further cementing his prior success in the Balkans, Svyatoslav’ssuccessor, Vladimir, who followed after the obstinate Russian’s death in 972,instigated the Rus’ “baptism” into the Christian faith, 28 thereby admitting theminto Byzantine Orthodoxy and resuming the campaign of amendment abandonedby the previous generation. 29 Though John would be unable to enjoy this victory
24completely as Vladimir’s efforts did not entirely take hold until 980, four yearsafter his death, it remained a triumph attributed to his deft politicking.Simultaneously, in subduing the Rus, John also squelched the bothersomeBulgarian state. He approached its deposed leader, Tsar Boris, as liberator ofSvyatoslav’s tyrannical rule and, in a characteristically florid procession intoConstantinople, conferred upon him the empty title of magister, to replace thecolloquial tsar. By forcing Boris into formal abdication, he abolished theBulgarian division of the Byzantine Church, the Bulgarian Patriarchate. Oncemore, Bulgaria was subject to the Empire; just as John would like it. 30Though John was of the first rank of aristocracy, he refused to submit tothe demands of the landed gentry in his agrarian legislation. In fact, the ruler wasnever one to kowtow to anyone. Estates on each theme 31 were investigatedregularly by officials to ensure peasants belonging to the state remained such.This would, in addition, curtail growth of large estates and force the smaller onesto be beholden to the empire. 32Since he was expanding the borders of the empire so broadly,reorganization was crucial. John grouped approximately thirty small frontierthemes, in addition to two new themes, around Antioch, under three dukes to actas regional administrators: Chaldia, Mesopotamia, and Antioch; their powerswere extended to seven smaller themes around them. He consolidated commandfor the Duke of Thessalonica in northern Greece and Duke of Adrianople forThrace, who each ruled over significant themes. Finally, he created a Catepan ofthe Mesopotamia of the West to reign over naval operations in the Danube andBlack Sea. 33Moreover, many unpopular fiscal policies of Nicephorus were remanded.For instance, the taxes installed to defray the costs of his wars failed to fill anempty treasury. John remedied this by greatly lowering taxes, compelling thepeople to spend and stimulate the withering economy. The somewhat frayedrelationship with the Church 34 was mended, as well, with John repealing lawsagainst monastic and ecclesiastical possessions. 35 With a government now inplace shaped to meet his needs, he could turn his attention to refining the titles ofthe day.During Tzimisces’ time, titles of former importance waned from theirLatin ancestry, becoming ever more influenced by the Greek that dominatedByzantine society. Just prior to his reign, John was logothete of the dromos, thenNicephorus’ domesticus of the east, essentially an authority over domestic affairsin his region. 36 Simplistic-yet-regal titles once of higher standing, like caesar andaugustus, were giving way to these increasingly common and far more elaborateones. 37 Standard titles were enlarged to include expanded powers and lands toavoid reliance upon a single official for too many subjects. These wereintroduced during the 971-975 period in response to Nicephorus’ inability, due totime constraints and constant warfare, to focus on reorganization of conqueredprovinces. 38 This more inclusive system of titles was indicative of John’s
25expansionistic desires south and east; he had wished even the titles bearing hisgovernment to be branded with his accomplishments.John clearly worked wondrous things with his empire, endeavoring dailyto better it and its people. How did he gain his position, though? What broughthim to power? Discussion of this has been avoided until now for a purpose: to setagainst his great deeds another set, no less great than the first, but only greatlyhideous. Many have killed for power. But far fewer would venture to the wickedextremes of John I.John was tempering his frustration over wrongful exile in Anatolia,imprisoned within his own estate as punishment for Nicephorus’ jealous fears. Ashis mind grew increasingly distant, the Emperor of Byzantium saw treacheryeverywhere. Perhaps, though, his jealousies had foundation after all: EmpressTheophano, noted for her spectacular beauty, was, at twenty-eight, stillremarkably fetching. Eventually, her numerous infidelities reached a certainArmenian general, who was himself outstandingly handsome, short of stature,with fiery red beard and an impeccably charming personality. 39 She had fallenirrevocably and passionately in love with John Tzimisces, greatest friend ofNicephorus.It is rather uncertain the extent to which John returned that particularaffinity, as the great resentment toward his former ally over his exile likelyblinded him; still, the affections of such peerless beauty as Theophano’s cannothave been completely unwanted. Regardless, Theophano’s love and John’sambition for sweet revenge brewed the first inklings of an insidious plot tooverthrow Nicephorus and institute a new regime.Paramount to the conniving empress’ plans was to first convince herhusband that he had been unkind to his forgotten colleague, to whom, in allhonesty, he probably owed his very crown and position, and suspend thebanishment. This was not difficult. Nicephorus was, well and truly, subject to thewhims of his wife, whom he loved in earnest. The exile was recalled to his homeat Chalcedon – still on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, but this did little to quellJohn’s efforts at undermining the crown; on the contrary, it was a convenientpoint of origin for the mutual scheming of he and the empress. Reliable coconspiratorssoon joined with little compulsion. These include Basil, theparakoimomenos, 40 Leo Balantes the taxiarch, and Michael Bourtzes, whoseheroic and courageous conquest of Antioch made Nicephorus envious, promptinghim to strip Bourtzes of command. 41 It seemed everyone had issue with themorose but well-meaning emperor of Byzantium, and the conspirators now had adate for their plot: December tenth.Excluding John, the conspirators entered the palace under women’s robes,ostensibly to visit the empress, who escorted them through the palace to awaitJohn’s arrival across the stormy Bosphorus. Assuring her husband of his safety,Theophano left the door to their bedchamber conveniently unlatched as she wentfor an evening stroll. 42 Though delayed by tempestuous seas, John arrived and,following the agreed upon signal of a low whistle, was hoisted into the imperialapartments. Nicephorus, and destiny, awaited.
26The emperor was discovered upon his blanket, on the floor in a vacantcorner, wearing only his hair shirt. Startled by the ruckus of the conspirators,Nicephorus attempted to rise, but was struck across the face by Leo Balantes’blade, nearly incapacitating him. John sat grimly upon the bed, leering injudgment as the emperor, aching from his wound, called desperately upon theHoly Virgin Theotokos 43 for aid that would not come. There Nicephorus, tooinjured to even kneel before the furious Tzimisces, lay as a bloody heap, while hisformer companion cursed his ingratitude and savagely kicked, occasionallytearing at tufts of Nicephorus’ hair and beard. 44 Retiring to the rear of thechamber, he allowed the others their opportunity to settle scores. The emperor’sjaw was smashed to nothing, his teeth shattered and spit out, before finally –almost mercifully, at this point -- being run through with a blade. Nicephorus wasdead, his body hurled ingloriously from the chamber window, staining the snowcoveredground below. John Tzimisces ruled now.Before recognition as emperor would be given by the Church, thePatriarch demanded three things of John: he must pay personal penance for hiscrime, he must distance himself from his fellow conspirators, and, mostsignificantly, he must remove the empress from Constantinople forever. TheChurch must have delighted in the expediency with which he so completelybowed to their authority. John paid his due, and had a weary, confused, andheartbroken Theophano unceremoniously expelled to a convent on the island ofProti. 45 He was pronounced emperor, officially, on Christmas Day, 970, thoughproclaimed it far sooner.And yet, this is not the end of this morality play, for, as the chroniclersdepict so vividly, the remainder of his life seems an enormous apology for thismost heinous of crimes. When Bardas Phocas, nephew of Nicephorus, staged amighty insurrection in 971, the new emperor entreated the usurper to avoidbloodshed in every possible way, offering amnesty and great honors to all whoabandoned Phocas’ cause. 46 When prying information from a traitorous Phocasfamily bishop, he remitted the usual death sentence to blinding, then, at the verylast, had the hot iron pulled away and the man released, unpunished. Such mercy,inconsistent with the brutality of that December day, appears quite typical in laterlife. Bardas, the pretender himself, even after a protracted and failed attempt toseize the throne, was spared all but tonsuring 47 and exiled, family in tow, toChios, one of the most pleasant Aegean isles. 48 Few who have risen against thestate in such a manner have received better, or from a more benevolent opponent.John I is remembered by his people as infinitely generous, not callous orfierce. The larger portion of his personal fortune he distributed among those ofthe populace suffering from disastrous harvests and poverty, or to theNosocomium, the nearby leper hospital, which he visited frequently. There heshowed compassion, encouragement, and empathy to the ill. It is said that heeven bathed their sores with his very hands. 49 Kindness, charm, sympathy, andlove were the hallmarks of Emperor John I to those he governed, and those whoknew him.
27What is to be done, then, with these two powerfully different people thathistory presents us, two people of such disparity that, somehow, occupy the samecorporeal body? Did the horrendous murderer who brutalized his former friend ashe lay before him simply disappear when the diadem was set upon him? Or washe merely hidden behind a ruse of recovery and charity, concealed until nextneeded? None could answer these questions but John and the God he devotedhimself to. Above all, John was human, with human faults and human errors.Wrath and a wretched lust for revenge were his sins, and his life was anattempt to escape them. Regardless of whatever good he accomplished, it iscertain that John’s haunted memory was never purged of his crime. Burned intohis mind was the singular image of a forgotten friend, praying with gnarled handsthrough twisted lips, and blinded by the blood streaming from his broken face; afriend whose only answer to his last, desperate prayer was scorn. For, no matterhow hideous Nicephorus looked, at that point, John’s soul was marred far uglier.Yes, guilt followed John everywhere, but it bred in him greatness. Only in such alife could he achieve so much for his empire, and do so much for its people. Onlyin his death, in 976, could he atone for what in life, he never could. It was a lifeof fascinating confliction. And that is the only life truly worth reading about.ENDNOTES1 While the official title of the emperor of Byzantium was basileus, he was also giventhis inflated name, reflective both of the great significance the Christian faith held to Byzantinesociety and the perceived infallibility, by station alone, of the emperor.2 John Julius Norwich, A Short History of Byzantium (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,Publisher, 1997), 4.3 Matthew Bennett, et al, Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World: Equipment,Combat Skills, and Tactics (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2005), 72.4 Ibid., 73.5 Rome was, quite literally, stripped of her most ornate prizes: some bronze statues werecleaved to harvest precious metals, and yet others were melted down entirely, all to accommodatethe new capital. Constantinople needed a glamorous look befitting its stature. Constantine wouldhave no less for his city.6 Norwich, Short History, 13.7 Greek meaning “king.”8 George Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, sixth paperback ed. (Rutgers, NewJersey: State University of New Jersey, 1999), 31.9 John Julius Norwich, Byzantium: the Apogee (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, Publisher,1992), 197.10 Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, 285.
2811 Thomas Zacharis and Greg Maynard, “The Prince and the Emperor,” Military History(August 2004): 52.12 Greatest example of this is, perhaps, in Nicephorus’ dealings with a pair of Bulgarianambassadors coming to collect their due tribute, promised by the Empire; after verbally assaultingthem with a torrent of insults so hideous that they hardly bear repeating, the tactless emperor hadthem scourged. They returned to Bulgaria with nothing but their wounds to their claim.13 Norwich, Byzantium: the Apogee, 186.14 George Childs Kohn, Dictionary of Wars, rev. ed. (New York: Checkmark Books,1999), 88.15 John Haldon, Warfare, State, and Society in the Byzantine World 565-1204 (London:ULC Press, 1999), 29.16 Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, 297.17 Zacharis, “The Prince and the Emperor,” 54-55.18 Heavy, armored horsemen.19 Haldon, Warfare, State, and Society, 40.20 Standard unit of military measure.21 Spearmen.5.22 Ian Heath, Byzantine Armies 886-1118 (Oxford, England: Osprey Publishing, 1979), 4-23 Immortals.24 Haldon, Warfare, State, and Society, 118.25 David Nicolle, Romano-Byzantine Armies 4th-9th Centuries (Oxford, England: OspreyPublishing, 2000), 16-17.26 A. A. Vasilev, “Hugh Capet of France and Byzantium,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol.6 (1951): 231.Greek.27 So much was she allowed her own traditions that her son, Otto III, would be reared as a28 Vladimir prompted to quick conversion only those who had not already been driven toit by the thick haze of fear that emanated from John’s crippling victory at Dorystolon.29 Andrzej Poppe, “The Political Background to the Baptism of Rus’: Byzantine-RussianRelations between 986-89,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 30 (1976): 197-198.30 Norwich, Short History, 202.
2931 Territorial divisions were distinguished into provinces, or “themes.”32 Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, 295.33 Warren Treadgold, Byzantium and Its Army 284-1081 (Stanford, California: StanfordUniversity Press, 1995), 38-39.34 John’s own belief in the primacy of the Church is entirely apparent in one of hisgreatest sayings, “I acknowledge two powers in this life: the priesthood and the Empire; theCreator of the world has entrusted to the former the cure of souls, to the latter the care of bodies; ifneither part is damaged, the well-being of the world is secure.” Ibid., 296.35 Ibid., 294.36 Nicolas Oikonomides, “Two Seals of Symeon Metaphrastes,” Dumbarton OaksPapers, vol. 27 (1973): 324-325.37 Anna Comnena, The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, trans. E.R.A. Sewter (London:Penguin Classics, rev. ed., 2004), 518-519.38 W.B.R. Saunders, “The Aachen Reliquary of Eustathius Maleinus, 969-970,”Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 36 (1982): 212.39 Norwich, Short History, 196.40 Highest advisor to the Emperor.41 Norwich, Byzantium: the Apogee, 207.42 Zacharis, “The Prince and the Emperor,” 54-55.43 Mary, mother of Christ.44 Norwich, Short History, 197.45 Zacharis, “The Prince and the Emperor,” 55.46 Norwich, Short History, 199.47 His head shaven in the manner of a monk.48 Norwich, Byzantium: the Apogee, 218.49 Ibid., 213.