Sitting in the place of honor among his court, Tsar Nicholas II, Autocrat of All the Russias, reflected on his long inglorious life. Following giants like his father and grandfather, was it inevitable that he was dim in comparison?
The war with Japan in 1904, had been a disaster. He might have gained glory defending Serbia in 1914, but he decided upon peace instead. After that, the chance for valor had never come.
He’d lost all his old rights, slowly whittled away by the Duma, forced to accept constitutional limitations on the monarchy. Granted, the people were richer than ever before …
He was 74 years old, and knew he had not much time left on Earth. At least young Nicholas, his grandson by Alexis, would succeed him. And his daughters had made good matches: they were half the queens of Eastern Europe. Family had always meant much to him.
The rocket ignited. And the last true autocrat watched, as Russia launched the first man into orbit.