How strong was the Tsarist regime in 1914?

AQA Modern World History GCSE based on the syllabus.

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The Tsarist regime

Strengths

  • 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.

Weaknesses

  • 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.
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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.
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The Aristocracy

  • 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Comments

littlebeeptoo

good info but all completley accurate

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