The October Manifesto, though not actually creating significant change in Russian political policies, officially signified the end of Russia’s autocratic government. The manifesto also raised expectations of political representation which were crushed through the Fundamental State Laws of 1906 and electoral changes in ’07. Through this, Nicholas lost the confidence of his supporters and the people of Russia and from 1906 to 1917, he was gradually abandoned by the bureaucracy, the ruling classes and the church. Despite this, however, Nicholas remained stubbornly unwilling to recognise the isolation of his government. This was demonstrated when he assumed that him taking personal control of the army during the First World War would unite the nation.
Theme: Assess the view that throughout 1855-1964, Russian rulers opposed change. To assess this view it is important to consider a number of areas including the role of opposition, and backwardness and poor state of the country. Trotsky described war as a ‘locomotive of change’ and Russian involvement in war throughout the period meant that this was very much the case. Russian rulers were also to some degree reluctant reformers who were opposed to change as most changes throughout the period were forced upon them and were usually followed with restrictions, such as the Fundamental Laws reducing the impact of the Duma. This was probably due to their authoritarian ideology.
Although Witte would have been strongly conservative, as he was hired by Alexander III, and would be expected to not care about helping the peasants who were in distress after the famine, he believed that the economy would only progress if the standards of living were made better. Therefore he had to come up with a solution to compensate for the peasants’ losses as well as improving Russia’s finance: by industrialising. Russia was in great need of refurbishing as it was still using equipment from the 18th and early 17th century, which caused them to be humiliated in the Crimean War; Alexander II introduced reforms to ease along the process of industrialisation but Witte wanted to able to compete again with the other Western powers. As well as this, industrialising would create more jobs for peasants to be able to work and earn money; this way Witte was able to solve two problems at once. Britain took 150 years to complete this process but he wanted to change Russia in the space of about 20 years.
All Russian governments in this period faced strong opposition to their regime with the period as a whole punctuated by riots, disturbances and revolutions. Political change was expected in Russia during this period, particularly during the Tsarist regime where the growth of the revolutionary intelligentsia, ironically an effect of the Great Reforms, led many to question the need for a Tsar or a royal family at all. The first main success of political opposition is widely considered to be the assassination of Alexander II at the hands of the People’s Will in 1881. Although they assassinated their Tsar, it is very likely this did not actually lead to their desired outcome, it being greater political freedom/democracy. Many historians have said Alexander II was considering the formation of a parliament in Russia.
In 1917, Russian Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate from the throne after the March Revolution. I think that the main reason he abdicated was not because of the opposition of the people, but Russia’s failures in World War One, however there are many reasons considered for why he did it. The top four are: the opposition of the town workers, Russia’s poor performance in WW1, the weakness of Tsar Nicholas II, and the events in St Petersburg in February 1917. The opposition of the peasant and town workers were a very important factor in bringing down the Tsar. When Nicholas was first crowned Tsar in 1894, the whole country rejoiced and had a new hope for a brighter future, that things would be better than they were before.
Explain why Alexander II introduced further reforms after the emancipation edict of 1861 Emancipation opened many opportunities for further reforms and forced a change in the structure of the Russian society. Serfdom was abolished and the nobility could no longer control them which led to light being shed on other problems in society such as the law, industry and also the military. The most important reason for the introduction of further reforms is that they were a reasonable response to the emancipation of the serfs, but only in short term. The emancipation act gave the serfs power to control their own lives instead of being dictated by people of a higher status, such as the nobility. For this, rural councils known as the Zemstvas were set up in 1864 which offered the serfs a representative government; but they were mostly dominated by the nobility and professionals and many of them resented their loss of power over the serfs.
However it created land ownership problems which with the redemption fee system created bitterness amongst peasants and became known as ‘the great disappointment’ . His other reforms such as changes to the legal system, military and education, also gave Russian’s a greater freedom, however he didn’t provide the extensive changes to autocracy and society that radicals hoped for. As the population got a taste of liberalisation opposition increased, threatening the tsarist regime, forcing Alexander II to use repression to maintain control. Some historians suggest this shift from reform to reaction was directly related to the first assassination attempt on his life. However, Jonathan Bromley argues that there was no conservative shift as just prior to his death he agreed in principal to a national assembly.
The Tsar was not overthrown in the 1905 revolution because nobody imperatively wanted him to be overthrown even though he had made many faults, they rather wanted him to change the way he ruled the country, this made him pass the October Manifesto that installed the Duma, which was the lower houses of parliament that could pass laws but be vetoed by the Tsar, and grant civil liberties such as freedom of speech, religion, and press. By the time of the 1917 Revolution, the people have had enough, and wanted complete change in government. Direct Comparison: While the military was willing to help the Tsar put down the rebellions during the 1905 Revolution, they sided with the people during the 1917 Revolution. Analysis: During the 1905 Revolution, Nicholas ll was able to put down the rebellion using the military with his famous words, “Execute, Execute, Execute”. On Bloody Sunday, the protest by the urban workers or proletariate was because of working conditions, rights and food shortages, the Cossacks, who were fierce cavalry soldiers who the Tsar used to break up any protests, shot down and
In reaction to this, he shut down the assembly in order to keep power for himself. In doing so it was one of the first actions he took which portrayed some similarities to that of the Tsar, but he defended his actions declaring Russia needed to be told what to do in order to live the communist ways, or as it was called ‘dictatorship of proletariat.’ However Lenin did manage to win some of the Russian approval. Another immediate effect of the revolution was on the 8th of November he made a speech in the hopes of gaining the support of masses throughout Russia in order to establish control everywhere. In his speech he promised the land was to be given to the peasants and seized from the rich. This pleased a lot of people as the population had 80% peasants.
Preliminary Modern History Task: Decline and fall of the Romanovs Alex Lai Due: Wednesday 28 March 2012 Under the repressive and conservative rule of Nicholas II from 1894 to 1917, the Russian autocracy experienced a failure in satisfying the demands of its populace. Through the reversal of earlier policy and further imposition of repressive policy, this inability to govern fuelled the mentality of revolutionists and secured the fall of Tsardom. Nicholas’ conservative upbringing concerning the maintenance of autocracy within Russia largely influenced his policy platform and how he responded to the various situations he encountered during his reign. His mindset was heavily influenced by his personal tutor, the arch conservative Pobedonostev, who possessed a concrete belief that autocracy was the only viable