But even thought many peasants would now have their land many of the youths of the landlords would rise up against the peasants for killing their parents. This group would be known as the “Black Hundred”. This group brutally beat or killed peasants to take revenge as an effect this kept the peasants under control. The Tsar had to crush what was left of his opposition. The Tsar was desperate to get Russia back in control so in December the Tsar’s loyal army was used to demolish what was left of the working class strikers.
However, they never lead to the considerable improvements he expected as they were somewhat incomplete and many were not satisfied with them. In 1861 Alexander II emancipated the serfs; they were freed from their feudal obligations and allotted land for their needs. They were given freedom from noble interference and control of their lives, as well as being freed from fear of being forced to do military service. The serfs were given very little land and that which they received was of poor quality. The system of land distribution was unfair and most peasants received 4% less land than they had rented before, many received much less.
Alexander decided that to improve morale within the armed forces, service in the army could no longer be given as a punishment in a court of law, the term of service was reduced by ten years and punishments within the army were made much less severe. The difficulties were also due to Russia’s small industrial force and poor travel routes, while it had the biggest army in the world, badly made roads and antiquated weaponry kept the military from reaching its full potential. The first and only of Alexander’s industrial reforms to be implemented during his reign as Tsar was the building of the first Russian railway. Alexander had many other industrial reforms planned, but due to his assassination, these were put in place during the reign of his son Alexander III. Alexander also realised that in order for the country to move forward industrially, it had to move away from its dependence on serfdom and its archaic social system.
‘Russia was a backwards country with little hope of moderating herself’ How far do you agree? Throughout time many historians have stated that Russia (prior to its revolution) was a ‘backwards’ country and that it had little chance of developing in order to keep up with the modernized world we live in today. However, by arguing for or against this, one must first take into consideration Russia’s social views, economy, geography and political tactics at this point in time. Russia’s take on politics was different to some of the other powerful countries at this time. They had not yet brought in any form of democracy, however, with the country being 80% peasants, it was not yet possible.
One of the main problems was the social problems it caused because of the loss of agricultural workers in the war led to a massive food shortage in Russia it also dint help when the tsar announced their would be bread rationing, in the war Russia also didn’t perform very well they lost 1.6 million Russian soldiers 3.9 million were wounded and 2.4 million were captured. another reason why the 1905 revolution survived was because the Tsar issued the October manifest which meant that a lot of people were happy because it allowed people to have a freedom of speech it also said that the Tsar would share his power which he had to intention of doing over time he started undoing concessions and arguing that the Duma was only a shell of democracy as it could not pass laws without the approval of the monarch, and that freedom of speech was heavily
Not only was it the population of the Russian empire that turned against the Tsars, but the Army too. They were many revolts in the countryside; of which were suppressed by the army. This caused problems as the army was mainly structured of peasants. This meant mutinies were to come into play – 200 from October to December. In addition to this, troops within the far-East wanted deployment as they disagreed with the rules after the Manifesto.
Tsar Alexander III’s reforms were reverse ‘reaction’ of what his father, Alexander II, did before him to improve the country he ruled over. Repressive policies under Nicholas II were continued right up until early 1905 when Bloody Sunday took place outside Winter Palace and hundreds of Russian citizens were massacred by the Cossacks. It appears that there was extremely little, if any, political reform during 1881-1905. Political reform after 1905 began to rise. A clear turning point for politics in Russia was the publishing of the October Manifesto.
These rights included; the chance to own land, marry, trade, were given a quarter of old land free and the option to build their own businesses. Previous to this manifesto serfs had little to no freedom as they were legally owned by land owners. This would have been seen as normal and necessary for Russian society. The step of emancipating serfdom would have been seen as radical and going against the Slavophile ways of life. This shows that Alexander was ready to liberate Russia because even though it was risky, it helped to start the liberalisation process because it enabled ex-serfs to work in factories which would help boost the economy, let the gentry to earn their own money and would help advances in industry which in turn help Russia to compete with the western world.
Alexander was hopelessly out of touch with the emerging realities of a modern Russia. For example, agriculture was exploited as a source of export earnings; this helped cause a series of famines, especially in 1891. This made him hugely unpopular as he took grain from the people in an attempt to make money and improve the economy. Due to his slow intelligence and lack of experience, Alexander forgot the fundamental rule of keeping his people happy and instead chose to supress them. He did not realise that, following Alexander II’s emancipation of the serfs in 1861, he could not return to a state of rigid autocracy when the serfs had already had some freedom.
Peasants were at the bottom of the Russian Society and in many people's eyes the most likely to want to revolt, but due to the illiteracy and lack of understanding of what was going on, they never, as Robert Service states in “A history of modern Russia” by saying “Peasants, while making money from the expanded market of their products, kept to tradition notions and customs,” this highlights how controlled the Russian Society was and that though many, if not all, peasants were in a bad situation, they upheld traditional values. This would have added to the Tsars strength before 1905, because the peasants made up 80% of the population, and having that huge a percentage under control really would have made the Tsar become under less threat of a revolution. Another reason as to why the Tsar was so strong before 1905 was his tight control over the Russian workers. The Russian industry wasn't very advanced and it can be argued that this was done on purpose, as Robert Service mentions “ for he and his ministers were fearful about the rapid creation of an unruly urban proletariat such as existed in other countries” this shows how the Tsar thought, that if the workers started to earn more money and have a better working life, it may lead to an unbalanced society, so to keep the workers in check, he deliberately