Russia 1855-1917


Part 1

-Tsarist Russia in the mid- nineteenth century was a backward, underdeveloped agricultural country, with poor communications

  • Over 90% of the population were peasants
  • It was governed by an autocracy ruled by a Tsar at the head of a large inefficient bureaucracy . It was a repressive regime which made use of the secrete police and the army to maintain its control
    -Defeat in the Crimean war highlighted Russias backwardness and prompted the Tsar, Alexander II, to put in motion some reforms
  • The most important reform of the emancipation of the serfs. They were freed and given an allocation of land but they had to pay for it over 49 years
  • Peasants and nobles were upset by the terms of the emancipation
  • Other reforms included local government reforms which set up zemstva, and judicial reforms which set up a system of independent courts and judges.
  • These reforms challenged the political authority of the regime and aided the growth of the third element (professionals like doctors, lawyers and teachers) who were pushed for reform in the future
  • The military reforms created a smaller more professional army but one still dominated by the nobility and the reliance on uneducated peasants conscripts
  • Reforms in education saw an increasing number of schools and pupils, and more independent universities. The relaxation of censorship saw an increase in books and periodicals, many were critical of the tsar and his government
  • This period saw the growth of revolutionary groups angry about the injustice of tsarist system. In the 1870s the popularist took their message to the people but were not successful and the Revolutionary movement split and took different directions
  • After 1866 Alexander II adopted more reactionary policies and approaches
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Part 2

  • The autocracy was underpinned by the principles of autocracy, orthodox say and nationality. The Tsarist state has structural weaknesses.
  • Alexander the third rolled back the reforms of his father with a series of counter reforms establishing tight control of the legal system, education, local government, censorship and peoples freedoms
  • He Took Russia back to more repressive arbitrary, personalised, autocracy and did not build the institutions of civic society that would've been engaged more sections of the population
  • Alexander supported the policy of Russification as a way of controlling and integrating the different nationalities in the empire. His regime fostered a racist policy towards the Jews who were excluded from many areas of Russian society
  • Alexandra threw his weight behind the modernisation and industrialisation of Russia. This was led by Sergei Witte, finance minister from 1892 to 1903. Witte's industrial strategy was based on: developing heavy industry, especially railways, foreign loans, investment and expertise high tariff increased taxation and grain exports
  • there was a great industrial spurt in the 1890s and, after economic depression in the early part of the 20th century, industrial growth continued from 1908 to 1914. Russia became one of the leading industrial countries in the world.
  • progress was made in agriculture with a general increase in grain production from 1880 to 1914. The central agricultural regions remind weak. Outside the centre more go-ahead peasants, land owners and communes were trying new crops and methods and prospering
  • from 1906 to 1911, Peter Stolypin brought in land reforms designed to create more productive, independent peasants who would support the regime but he met with only limited success
  • Russia was undergoing huge social change resulting from industrialisation, changing ownership of land and the penetration of money economy into the countryside
  • Russian literature and art flourished in this period which saw the work of some of the worlds greatest writers musicians and artists
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Part 3

  • After 1900 Russia was in a turbulant and unsettled state, made worse by the Russo Japanese War. The government was seen as incompetent
  • Bloody Sunday initiated a year and strikes, up-risings, mutinies and political action- the 1905 revolution
  • The Tsar was forced to issue the October manifesto in which he agreed to an elected duma and civil rights. As a result the liberals and middle classes with drew from the revolution. The workear were crushed by the authorities and the army's suppressed the peasants and national minorities during 1906
  • The Tsarist regime survive in 1905 because the army has remained loyal and the opposition Lacked unity and common purpose
  • The Tsar undermined the constitutional experiment by announcing the fundamental laws which reasserted the principle of autocracy
  • The first two Dumas were riven with disagreements and were short lived. Changes in the electoral system to favour the propertied classes changed the composition of the Duma and some progressive reforms were made in the third and fourth Dumas
  • Stolypin might have been able to make the Constitution exparement work but he was hated by the right and left and did not receive the support of the Tsar. The regime became increasingly isolated and relient on right-wing support.
  • The First World War had a devastating impact of Russia with millions killed or wounded, damaging the morale of soldiers. The Russian economy could not cope with the requirements of the total war. The distribution system broke down and there were serious food and fuel shortages in towns and cities.
  • The government bureaucracy was incomplete and inefficient so businessmen and the zemstva set up their own organisations to supply the army with necessary war materials. This offered an alternative form of government
  • The Tsar made fatal mistakes a) going to the front and taking personal responsibility for the war b) leaving in charge the Tsarina and Rasputin who became a focus of antagonism towards the regime
  • By February 1917 support for the Tsar had eroded and the people swept him from power in it spontaneous revolution.
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Part 4

  • The provisional government and the Soviet shared power after the abdication of the Tsar while arrangements were made to elect to constituent assembly to work out the future system of the government for Russia
  • The provisional government faced difficult issues concerning the war, land, national minorities, social reform and the economy. It did not deal with these in a way that match the expectations of the workers soldiers and peasants
  • Lenin and the Bolsheviks offered an alternative program which included ending the war, giving land to the peasants and power to the soviets, which attracted popular support
  • The provisional government was reformed taking in more moderate socialist but there were splits between liberals and socialists. The Bolshevik's became the focus for opposition to the provisional government
  • The frustration of soldiers and workers exploded in the July days but the Bolshevik leadership was not ready to take advantage of this and the uprising fizzled out.
    Alexandra Kerensky was my Prime Minister but the economic and social situation was deteriorating and order in town and countryside was breaking down
  • Keransky tried to use general Kornilov to gain control of the Petrograd but Kornilov had his own agenda and the affair ended in disaster. This boosted support for the Bolsheviks
  • Lenin persuaded the Bolshevik party to seize power and after further inept moves by Kerensky, they did this on 25-26 October, taking advantage of the All-Russian congress of soviets
    The Bolshevik government was on fragile footing as other socialists, workers and soldiers resisted one-party rule. But Lenin managed to keep the Bolsheviks in powe by giving to people what they wanted and establishing the mechanism for controlled by terror (the Cheka)
  • Lenin dealt with threats from the opposition by arresting the leaders of other political parties, shutting down their newspapers and closing down the constituent assembly
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