The Tsarist regime
- There was strong public loyalty to the Tsar.
- Autocracy is potentially a very strong system - one person is able to take key decisions quickly.
- Most peasants' lives are effectively controlled by the Mir.
- Tsar has huge personal powers over fines, arrests, imprisonment etc.
- Strong army + secret police.
- Everything depends on the personality and leadership of the Tsar - when he's weak, so is the regime.
- Tsar is very bad at working with ministers and there is no system forcing him to do so.
- No compulsory consultation for Tsar.
- No proper decision-making framework.
1 of 6
Peasants and the countryside
- Around 80% of the Russian population were peasants who lived in communes.
- Living and working conditions were dreadful.
- Life expectancy for a peasant farmer was only 40.
- Russian land was in short supply as much of it was unsuitable for farming.
- The population increased 50% between 1860 and 1897.
- There was no basic education in Russia and very few peasants could read or write.
- Every week, peasants would hear how great the Tsar was and how they could be loyal subjects.
- Not all peasants were loyal or religious: many supported the opposition, the Social Revolutionaries. Their main discontent was over land - they resented the amount of land owned by the aristocracy, the Church and the Tsar.
2 of 6
- The peasants were contrasted with the aristocracy, who had vast estates, town and country houses, and elegant lifestyles.
- Aristocracy was 1.5% of society, but owned 25% of land.
- Most were loyal to the Tsar and wanted to keep Russian society as it was, so they often acted as local officials - a key part of the Tsar's government.
- The greatest fear for the aristocrats was that the peasants would rise up and take their lands.
3 of 6
New industries, cities and the working class
- The senior minister introduced policies that led to industrial growth: oil and coal production trebled, while iron production quadrupled.
- The greatest concentrations of peasant workers were in the capital, St Petersburg and in Moscow.
- Peasants arrived looking for a new way of life or just simply to earn some extra money.
- There were no regulations on child labour, hours, safety or education.
- Trade unions were illegal.
- There was very low pay: 12-15 hours a day made the peasants realise that working in factories was no better that working on land.
4 of 6
The middle classes
- A new class began to emerge in Russia because of industrialisation - bankers, businessmen etc. These were capitalists.
- Their main concerns were over the management of the economy, and also the controlling of their workforce. The workforce was a continuous problem in the years leading to the revolution, as there were numerous clashes between workers and capitalists in the years up to 1917.
5 of 6
Opponents of the Tsar
- Most Russians believed that God had appointed the Tsar to rule over them and that everyone else had their rightful place in society.
- The Social Revolutionist Partywanted all land in Russian to be given to the mirs, the village communes, so that the peasants could have a bigger share of the land.
- The Social Democratic Party followed the ideas of Karl Marx communism.
- The party was split into the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in 1903 because the leaders began to argue about what was the best way to start a socialist revolution.
- The Bolsheviks believed that the revolution should be organised by a small group of skilled and dedicated revolutionaries, while the Mensheviks believed that the party should be a mass party with as many working class members as possible.
- The leader of the Bolsheviks - Vladimir Ilyich Lenin - argued that if the Mensheviks had their way, it would take years to start a revolution.
- Julius Martov, the leader of the Mensheviks, replied that the revolution would fail if it did not have the support of the whole working class.
6 of 6