Russia - 1855 - 1917 - Key facts, dates and individuals

An overview of events, people and statistics regarding Russia between 1855 and 1917.

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Tsarist Russia ­ Key dates, individuals, events and
Alexander II (Tsar Liberator) ­ 1855 ­ 1881
Out of the 60 million people in Russia, 50 million were peasant serfs (half of
these were privately owned by the gentry and the other half by the State)
Russian population in 1855 ­ 70 million
Russian population in 1897 ­ 126 million
Grain was the most important Russian export, accounting for about 40%
By 1860, Russia had about 1600km of railway, compared to Britain's 15,000
The Emancipation of the serfs ­ 1861
Alexander liberated the serfs due to personal, political, moral and economic
Because of the limited amount of land available, the average peasant family
farmed 20% less land than before
Freed serfs had to pay state redemption taxes (plus 6% interest) for 49
years or continue to work for 30 or 40 days a year on the landlord's land.
State peasants were emancipated in 1866 and received better treatment ­
they were allotted, on average, twice as much land as private serfs
Alexander's Liberal Reforms ­ 1861 to 1865
Legal Reforms ­ new system introduced in 1864 ­ open courts, qualified
judges, trial by jury and the judiciary became independent of the government
Military reforms ­ conscription to cover all classes, no barbaric punishment,
reduced service to 15 years (6 years full time service and 9 in reserve), more
democratic (people that weren't nobles were able to become officers)
Local government ­ Zemstva (local councils) set up after 1864 to be
responsible for local affairs (these were elected)
Alexander II's era of conservatism ­ 1865
1865 ­ Alexander has an affair with a young princess, Catherine Dolgorouky
1866 ­ Attempted assassination by revolutionary group HELL
1866 ­ Tolstoy appointed Minister of Education ­ replaced any subjects on the
curriculum that would have encouraged independent thought
1886 ­ Shuvalov appointed head of the Third Section ­ tightened censorship
and introduced rule by decree (the govt. could pass laws really quickly
whenever it wanted)
Radical Opposition ­ those who wanted revolution
Student Revolutionaries (1860s) ­ published manifestos but were repressed by
Populism ­ `Go to the People' ­ between 1873 and 1874, 23000 Populists
visited peasant villages but were viewed with suspicion and reported to the
Marxism ­ believed revolution would come from the industrial workers and
would lead to a world void of class differentiation
Land & Liberty (1876) ­ kept faith in the peasants but, by 1879, it became clear
that the peasants wouldn't stage a revolution so the group faded away
Black Partition ­ centred its attention on the condition of the peasantry and
used nonviolent methods.

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People's Will ­ believed in political terror and focused their attention on the
assassination of the tsar unsuccessful attempts in April and Nov. 1879 and
Feb. 1880. They succeeded in March 1881.
LorisMelikov Plan ­ the Minister for International Affairs recommended that
the tsar should call a national assembly, which would include local govt. officials
at a higher level of govt. Alexander II approved it on the day he was
assassinated and Alexander III disregarded it afterwards.…read more

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Political ­ increased censorship and introduced the 1890 Zemstva act, which
changed electoral laws and decreased peasant representation.
Education ­ higher courses for women restricted (1882) and then closed
The 1884 University Statute established controls over universities and
1887 increased uni. Fees to exclude all but the wealthy.
Judiciary ­ 1889 ­ crimes against state officials were to be heard in special
courts without a jury.…read more

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Father Gapon led a peaceful march of workers to the Winter Palace in St.
Petersburg to present a petition to the tsar. Troops fired upon the crowd of
20,000 men, women and children ­ officially there were 600 killed/wounded but
journalists have put the figure at 4600.…read more

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Members of the Duma assumed control of Russia, forming the Provisional
Govt ­ Prince Lvov was the first leader, followed by Kerensky
The National network of Soviets had the allegiance of the lowerclass
citizens so a period of dual power ensued. They initially worked well together
but the soviets had Order No. 1, meaning that the armed forces answered to
them.…read more


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