Timeline for Tsarist Russia

In depth timeline of everything you need to know for Unit 1 AS history! 

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1855- Alexander becomes Tsar
As Nicholas I lay on his death bad he tells his son, "I hand over to you my command, unfortunately not
as in good order as I wished."
Russia had just suffered a defeat in the Crimean War
Alexander was no liberal and still believed in the god given right of the Tsar and that therefore justified
the autocratic rule.
However, he did believe that part of his duties was to rebuild Russia as a powerful and prestigious
country that was a leading power in Europe.
He showed this through releasing political prisoners including the Decembrists. He relaxed controls on
Censorship, lessened restrictions on foreign travel and university entrance, cancelled debts of those in
arrears with their taxes and restored some of the liberties of Poland and the Catholic Church.
He was greatly supported by other members of his family, his brother the grand Duke Constantine and
his aunt, the grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna.
Country has a debt of 54 million roubles.
1856 ­ Treaty of Paris ends Crimean War
- The Crimean War (1853-56) was provoked by Russian plans for expansion in the Turkish-controlled
Balkan area. In 1853, the Russians demanded the right to protect the Christians there, and when the
Turks rejected this, war broke out. The British and French, wary of Russia's ambition and concerned for
their own interests came to Turkey's defence and attacked the Crimean Peninsula where the Russians
had a base at Sebastopol. The war was a disaster for the Russians and in September 1855, they
abandoned Sebastopol.
- The war was concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1856.
The treaty reduced Russia's influence in the Black Sea area, but also declared the Black sea a `neutral
zone', preventing it s use by Russian warships in times of peace.
- 66% of serfs had been mortgaged as security for nobles' loans from the State Loan Bank, while peasants
were unable to pay their taxes.
1861 ­ Abolition of Serfdom
- This was not the first attempt to reduce serfdom, but it was the most successful. In 1803, Alexander I
had made it legal for landowners to sell their land to peasants. However only 100,000 serfs chose to buy
their freedom this way before 1855.
- Alexander II approached this emancipation in a different way that emphasised the `personal bond'
between monarchy and nobility ­ making it difficult for nobility to oppose the changes without looking
- In February, The Ukase was ready to be proclaimed as law but still did not come into force until Lent.
- The emancipation Ukase was a lengthy document that, initially, only applied to the privately owned serfs.
State serfs had to wait until 1866 to receive complete freedom.
- The basic provisions of the ukase were:
1) Serfs were to be released from ties to landowners and become free men. They would
be free to marry, own property, set up businesses, travel and enjoy legal rights.
2) Each serf family was entitled to keep its cottage and allotment. The amount depended
on the area.
3) Landlords would receive compensation for the loss of land in the form of government
bonds. Peasants were required to pay redemption payments.
4) The freed serfs were to remain within their Mir until all redemption payments had been
made. The Mir acted as a town council, distributing land and taxes etc.
5) Peasants were to continue to pay labour service for a further two years.
6) Landowners were to reati9n ownership of meadows, pasture, woodland and the land
which had been farmed for him which would be worked by paid labourers.
7) Communal open fields were retained by the Mir for common use.
8) Peasants kept the land surrounding their cottages and were allocated extra land, based
on their position and the decision of the Mir. They could sometimes buy up additional
strips of land.

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Volosts were established to supervise the Mirs. These had their own communal courts
and provided some degree of peasant self-government, replacing the landlords'
jurisdiction over the serfs.
1862- Creation of Ministry of Finance and State Bank, Taxation collection reformed and tax farming
- Banks and credit facilities were extended with the establishment of a state bank, municipal
banks and a savings bank.
- The treasury was reformed. A new system for collecting taxes, establishing budgets and auditing
the accounts of government was set up.…read more

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The press and book publishers received a new code for censorship with reduced restrictions.
- Foreign publications could be sold in Russia.
- The press was allowed to print editorials with comment on government policies for the first
1868 ­ Church reforms
- Talented, educated and charismatic priests were slowed to gain promotion to key positions
within the church.
1869 ­ The populists begin to smuggle in illegal texts.…read more

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Worked peacefully throughout Peasantry, spreading socialist propaganda and
trying to bring reform without resorting to violence.
- It developed ties with students and workers publishing radical papers.
- Weakened by arrests in 1880-81 and started to be attracted towards
- The People's Will
- Led by Timofei Mikhailov
- Successfully planted a spy in the tsar's Third Section to keep the group
informed on secret police activities.
- A bigger following than the Black Partition.…read more

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­ Trans Siberian Railway begins to be built.
- It linked central European Russia and Moscow with the Pacific Ocean at Vladivostok and ran for
7,000 km.
- It brought massive economic benefits with massive orders for coals and metals.
- It also helped develop Western Siberia.
- The railway could theoretically also be used to transport troops and weapons.
- However it promised more than it could deliver.
Famine of 1891-92
- Affected 17 of Russia's 39 provinces.…read more

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There were several outbreaks of disorder.
1901 ­ Assassination of N.P Bogolepov, Minister for Education
- Killed by a student named Pyotr Karpovich
- Part of the revived Populist group
The Populist groups come together to create the Socialist Revolutionary Party.
- A fairly loose organisation that was never centrally controlled.
- Influenced by the theorist, Viktor Chernov.
- Its members broadly accepted the Marxist teaching.
- They worked to get rid of autocracy and for the redistribution of land.
Student Demonstration in St.…read more

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Widespread unrest in towns and countryside.
- Nicholas II showed no sense of leadership of direction.
- Competent ministers, like Witte, were treated with suspicion.
- It resulted in the government being deprived of effective leadership or co-ordination.
Assembly of St. Petersburg Factory Workers set up by Father Georgii Gapon.
1904 ­ 1905 - Russo-Japanese war
- Plehve ­ Minister for Internal Affairs encouraged the tsar to embark on a short swift war against the
Japanese to stem domestic unrest.…read more

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The Grand Duke Sergei, the tsar's uncle and commander of the Moscow military region, was
blown up by a Socialist Revolutionary bomb.
- Trotsky returns to Russia from his exile in Siberia
- October
- October Manifesto
- The tsar agreed to sign a decree on October 17th promising constitutional reform.
- It promised:
- To grant the population the unshakeable foundations of civic freedom
based on the principles of personal rights, freedom of conscience,
speech, assembly and union.…read more

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The supreme autocratic power is vested in the Tsar of All the Russias. It is God's
command that his authority should be obeyed not only through fear but for
conscience sake.
- The tsar exercises the legislative power in conjunction with the Council of the
Empire and the Imperial Duma.
- The initiative in all branches of legislation belongs to the tsar.…read more

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Second Duma: February ­ June
- The government tried to influence the elections into the Duma, supporting the Octobrists and
consequently doubling there representation.
- The extreme left wing also increased though, with the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Social
Revolutionaries participating.
- Only 30 members of the original Duma returned.
- The Duma received the nickname "The Duma of National Anger" as it was even more
oppositional than the first.
- Stolypin struggled to find support for his agrarian reforms so passed it under emergency
legislation.…read more


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