Weaknesses of the Tsar
Russia was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II, who had all the power, advised by a chosen group of friends and noblemen.
Nicholas never wanted to become the Tsar, he had no choice but to do so. 'I am not ready to be Tsar. I know nothing about the business of ruling.'
The press was censored and the secret police, the Okhrana tracked down opponents of the Tsar and usually had the exciled to Siberia.
The 1905 Revolution
There was a series of demonstrations against the Tsar and the way things were, troops gathered outside the Winter Palace during a peaceful protest in St Petersburg. Troops shot at the crowd killing 130 people, following this there were more strikes and unrest with the way things were for people.
Strikers in St Petersburg organised a soviet (a council to organise of workers that organised more strikes and demonstrations, more and more towns and cities formed soviets, in some areas they even took over power. Forming a political party was now legal, Tsar Nicholas II set up the Duma, an elected group of advisors, however not much really changed.
The political groups fell into three main catagories:
- Monarchinsts supported the Tsar and wanted him to remain in power
- Consititutionalists wanted there to be constitution to limit the Tsar's power and some form of parliment set up. They alao fell into three main groups; the Constitutional Democratic Party, the Octoberists and the Progressists
- Revolutionaries wanted to overthrow the Tsar, the largest group were the Social Revolutionaries, who wanted a peasant lead revolution. The Social Democrats wanted a worker lead revolution, by 1917 many of them had devided into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks
Russia in 1917
Russia was ruled under a Tsarist regime.
Communication was a huge problem, of the 125.6 million people living there, only 55 million spoke Russian however they were expected to conform. People of hundreds of nationalities lived in very different ways and very different climates and cultures.
There were 125.6 million people living in Russia, 93.7 million of them were peasants, over half of whom did not have their own land or homes. They land, power and wealth was owned by 1 million people.
Population was on the rise and people were moving to the towns in search of better work, this meant food shortages were common.
In the towns and cities, work was not easy to find and when it could be found the hours were long and the work was hard and unsafe. Housing for factory workers was cramped and nasty, often ten to a room taking turns on sleeping, for many people though this was an improvement.
Rasputin was an unofficial advisor to the Tsar, though he was unpopular with the nobles. He was brought in by the Tsarina because she believed he was a holy man who could heal their son who was suffering from haemophlia and was the only heir to the Russian throne.
Rasputin was incredibly unpopular among the Russian people because of an untrue rumor that he and the Tsarina were having an affair, despite this he still had a huge influnce on the Russian Government.