Russia under the Tsars

Russia; 1890-1905

Key question – What problems did the Regime face and how well was it dealing with them?

*       Autocracy – The Romanov dynasty in charge

*         Population

1% of the population is aristocracy.  They dominate the government, the top levels of the army and bureaucracy and the Orthodox Church.

2-3% of the population are Middle Class.  They want to be involved in the way Russia is governed.  Many are interested in Liberal ideas

8% of the population are workers.  They experience harsh living and working conditions.

90% of the population are peasantry. They were emancipated from serfdom but are still paying redemption dues.  They want more land.

*         Under De Witte Russia went through a programme of rapid industrialization.  There was significant investment in transport and heavy industry leading to increased urbanization.

*         The regime is oppressive, operating censorship, a secret police (ohkrana) and sending political prisoners into exile.   Tsars have implemented policies of Russification and pogroms against minorities.

*         Main opposition are;

Liberals (After 1905 two main groups – Kadets and Octobrists)

Social Revolutionaries –Peasant party,  want to remove autocratic system and distribute land

Social Democrats – Believe in Marxist ideology.  Believe Bourgeoisie v Proletariat will lead to revolution.  Two groups Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.

The 1905 Revolution

Key questions – How far was this a genuine revolution?  Why was the Regime able to survive?

*         Long-term factors – as above

*         Medium-term factors –

War with Japan- defeats and higher taxation

*         Short-term factors-

Father Gapon leads a march to the Winter Palace over wages and conditions, Cossacks fire on them.

*         Course of Revolution

Strikes, Soviets established, setting up of Petrograd Soviet

Political Assassinations

Mutinies – Potemkin, Kronstadt

Unrest in countryside


No viable alternative to GVMT

Middle class become fearful – swing behind GVMT

Majority of troops stay loyal – are used to crush industrial unrest in Autumn

October Manifesto– promise of Parliament, Civil Rights and Land Reform

Revolution or Evolution?

Key question – was Russia evolving into a modern viable Liberal Democracy?

What do Historians think about this?

*         October Manfesto – setting up of Duma

Reiteration of Fundamental Laws

Role of Peter Stolypin

*         Dumas

1st Duma 1906 – Dominated by reformist parties- dissolved.

Vyborg appeal crushed – Stolypin’s necktie

2nd Duma 1907 – Clash between revolutionaries and right-wing parties- dissolved

3rd Duma 1907-1912 – Election rigged by Stolypin to produce more co operative deputies from moderate parties – social and land reform achieved

4th Duma 1912-1914 – Dominated by Right wing parties – becomes critical of GVMT

*         Land Reform – ‘Wager on the Strong’

Peasant Land Bank set up

Resettlement programme set up

Peasants encouraged to consolidate holdings and become Kulaks

*         Strikes increasing after 1912

Lena Goldfield Incident

Police Chief concerned about unrest in 1913

However, rush of loyalty to Tsar at outbreak of war

1914 – First World War

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