Alexander III


Measures to control society

Land captains - Introduced in 1889 and could interfere with local government, known as 'appointed delegates'. This was a clear return to autocratic administerative prinicples.

Loris-Melikov proposals - denounced. They proposed  to meet the demands of the zemstva for an extension of representative government at a national level. It would include elected nobility representatives, elected zemstva representatives, elected town government represntatives who would be involved in the discussions of the drafts of some state decrees.

Executions -  everyone involved in the killing of his father was executed.

The safeguard system -  governor generals and police had extreme power in states of emergency.

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 What was this?  Alexander wanted to create a single Russian nationality to give the empire greater strength and coherance. This was a huge task as only 44% of the nation was Russian.

Examples of its success:  Illiterate caucasians and Turkish began to speak, read and write in Russian when primary education spread across the country. Ukranians were referred to as 'little Russians' so when migration into Ukraine increased due to industrialisation, Russification became greatly successful.

Problems with the Jews:

1882 - Rights to acquire property were restricted. Couldn't enter the legal, military or medical profession. Couldn't vote in government elections. Higher education and degrees were limited.

1891 - Two-thirds of Moscow's Jewish population was expelled.

1902 - Secret Police concocted a theory that the Jews wanted to create a secret police state in Europe.

1903 - Anti-semitic pogroms began. In two days, 47 were murdered, 400 were wounded, 700 houses were burned down and 600 shops were destroyed.

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Aims of economic change (1887-1904)

What did Vyshnegradsky and Witte aim to do?  

Improve Russian finances and build up gold reserves.

Reduce importants via taxation.

Protect the raw cotton industry, industrial machiney and Russian iron.

Create a modern state capable of being militarily effective.

Increase foreign trade.

Build up the railways.

Gain french loans.

Industrialise quickly.

Maintain the autocracy.

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When? 1887-92

What were the advantages?

  • Between 1881-91 grain exports rose by 18%.
  • The Trans-Siberian railway in 1891 provided an economic and psychological boost.
  • Duties were increased to 33% which protected Russian industries from foreign competition.
  • He negotiated loans from the french in 1888.
  • The Russian budget was in surplus by 1892.

What were the problems?

  • The peasants were heavily taxed. 
  • There was peasant starvation in 1891-92.
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Witte - the advantages

When? 1892-1903

What were the advantages? 

  • Railways allowed movement of troops to the outer empire.
  • There were investments from France, Britain and Germany.
  • The currency was stabilised in 1897 by a new rouble which was backed by gold.
  • Became the fourth largest world economy.
  • By 1905 there was 60km of railway allowing the export of grain and oil.
  • The railway allowed emigration to Siberia which increased farming there.
  • The Putilov steel works in St.Petersburg was huge in the new engineering sector.
  • Rate of growth was over 8% per year which was the highest of any country in the 1890s.
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Witte - the disadvantages

What were the problems?

  • Domesticated and light industries were neglected.
  • Loans had to be paid back with interest and the country was dependant on them.
  • There was a rise in the price of goods.
  • Direct taxes were increased.
  • Wages did not rise with inflation.
  • There was a cholera outbreak in 1908-09.
  • Agricultural modernisation was neglected.
  • The middle class produced revolutionary leaders as they had no political voice nationally.
  • The state budget more than doubled which ate into profits.
  • There was a severe lack of expertise and manpower.
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The economy by 1904

In comparison to other countries:

  • Russia was the fourth largest world economy.
  • It had the highest growth rate of any country in the 1890s.

Differences from the beginning to end of the period:

  • From 1887-1908 the number of factory workers doubled.
  • So the number of factories increased but working conditions worsened.
  • From 1880-1910 - coal production increased by 8 times, pig iron increased by 6 times, crude oil production increased by 24 times.

What were the negatives?

  • Loans had to be repaid with interest and Russia was dependant on them.
  • Agriculture had not improved so no consumers goods were produced to act as incentives for the workers to modernise agriculture - the money they earned couldn't be spent on anything.
  • The government focussed on heavy industry alone.
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Why was it needed?

  • It would help Russia achieve a great power status in the 20th century, industrialisation was necessary for the production of weapons, ships and ammunition.
  • Traditional agricultural methos were not sufficient for Russia's needs as the population was ballooning. Peasants were starving and as they had nothing to lose they revolted. Industrialisation was needed to improve agriculture and therefore food supply and to provide work for surplus workers.

Why would it threaten the autocracy?

  • Most moderised, industrial countries had democracies and parliaments, monarchs had limited power and so it would be hard to maintain the autocratic regime.
  • Social tensions would be created with a countryside to city move and a united working class would find it easier to revolt.
  • The workforce would be educated and so could challenge the government.
  • The growing middle class would create pressure for social change and a represntative government.
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Rural problems (1)

1) Grain production was poor in comparison to the west because of backwards farming methods.

What was done? Noble and peasant land banks were created to facilitate the purchase and development of larger farms.                                                                                                     What were the impacts? Negatives: Farmers' debt increased making efficient farming impossible. Helped to maintain inefficient farms. Positives: Increased peasant ownership.

2) Old, traditional methods left land fallow.

What were the impacts? American output was 1 and a half times more and Britians was not 4 times more.

3) There was an increasing gap between the rich and poor peasants.

What were the impacts? Richer peasants used landbanks to buy out impoverished neighbours. Capitalist peasants bought grain to tide over local peasants but sold it an inflated rate. Kulaks were coming to own high percentages of land.

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Rural problems (2)

4) Peasants were finding life hard and joined bands of migrant labourers.

What measures were taken? The government sponsored schemes for peasants to move into new agricultural settlements in 1896.                                                                                  What were the impacts? This was only possible for 750,000 of 97 million peasants.

5) There was a population explosion and so more land was needed for more food production. There was little money for investment and machinery.

6) There were high mortality rates and low life expectancies so many army volunteers were turned away.

What measures were taken? The zemstva brought in health care to try and combat the high mortality rates.                                                                                                                       What were the impacts? Health levels stayed the same and so did life expectancy.

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Opposition from the Populists

When? Founded in 1886.

What were their ideas and methods?

  • They had socialist ideas and believed that Russia depended on land redistribution and development of the peasant commune.
  • Their ideas were preserved in the remnants of The People's Will.
  • There were self-education circles that reproduced foreign socialists' writings by translation and reprinting.
  • In 1891-92 they reprived Populist ideas as the Great Famine highlighted the need for rural reform.

Who was their leader? Alexander Ulyanov.

Who supported them? University students and young inteligentsia.

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Opposition from the Socialist Revolutionaries

When? Founded in 1901.

What were their ideas and methods? 

  • This was Marxist teching combined with Populist ideas, they created the 'Russian Revolutionary Program' which stated that the interests of peasants and workers was identical

Who was their leader? Victor Chernov.

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Russia's stability by 1904

Peasants - Stable? Still regarded the Tsar as 'little father'. Unstable? Risings were increasing from 1902 because of land hunger and redemption payments.

Workers - Unstable? They were increasing in number and there was increasing discontent at the poor conditions.

The Tsar's position - Stable? The Okhrana were infiltrating oppoisition groups. He was still an autocrat and still had effective ministers e.g. Witte. The Nobility, Army and Church were still loyal to him. Unstable? He did not trust his ministers and sacked Witte. He was increasingly out of touch with the people.

The economy - Stable? Industrialisation was increasing. Railways were developing. Russia had money from foreign loans. Unstable? Foreign loans were a dangerous and expensive way to boost the economy.

Opposition - Stable? Had little sway with average workers and peasants. The most extreme group the SDs were tiny. Unstable? Left wing opposition were organised, violent and had an increasing influence in universities. Both the SRs and SDs wanted revolution and to overthrow the Tsar. Minister Phleve was murdered in 1904. Demands for a Duma were ignored so campaigns began. National minorities reacted badly to Russification.

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Conclusion of Alexander III

What did he achieve? He stabilised the government and worked to avoid conflict and increase Russia's world power.

What problems arose? His cancelling of the planned constitution set in to motion the events that would destroy the constitution. He clung to autocracy when the Russian Government should have been moving with the times and adjusting to the 20th century.

How stable was his Tsardom overall? Seemed relatively stable but his increasing detahcment from the people and organised opposition were huge problems. 

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