Russia in Revolution 1894-1924


Russia before 1894

Rulers of Russia pre 1855 where known as reactionary autocrats, who were unwilling to consider social or economic change. In 1855 when Tsar Alexander II took the throne he became known as the Tsar Liberator for making some important reforms. 

Russia was a rural country, and agriculture had to feed Russias expanding population. Grain was the most valuable export, and although the empire had large reserves of natural resources industrialisation had not really occured, and was limited to only large cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg. 

Russia was headed by the Tsar, and under him was the members of the court, nobility, and the Russian Orthadox Church. The vast majority of Russias population was made up of serfs who were tied to Landowners- who had power over them (the landowners did not own the serfs, they owned the land the serfs were legally tied to). The Tsar Liberator Alexander II changed this by emancipating the serfs. This did not mean the serfs were entirely free- they had to pay redemption payments for the land to the government, and serfs were required to work in the village commune (mir) where column farming was used. Alexander II also introduced the zemstvo (local government units) in 1964. He also introduced trial by a jury, meaning the public could help decide justice- rather than just the Tsars officials. 

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Russia before 1894 (2)

After Alexander II was assasinated Alexander III took over the throne with the political pressure to maintain the reforms his father had begun to make to Russia's social structure. Because he was shoked by his fathers death and was not approving of the reforms he had made he ended all political reforms. 

The idea that Russia may become a modern European state through political reforms were halted by the restrictions placed on serfs (they had to pay for land they once had for free, this caused anger against the government). Because of this radicals began to believe that modernisation would only be achieved with the ending of the Tsarist regime and so many revolutionary groups were set up. 

In order to try and repress ideas of political reform from spreading, the Tsar limited press freedom- no liberal ideas culd begin to spread. 1889 land captians were created- and trial by jury. Zemstvas were restricted so only the higher classes could join them. Primary schools were also but under control of the church, and peasents were restricted from secondary schools. This undid the work of the Tsar Liberator. 

The policy of Russification was also introduced, making Russian culture and language reign over the multi-racial empire to try and gain more unity and cohesion between the empire, and create patrism. 

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Russia before 1894 (3)

Russia was the most economically undeveloped of the great powers of Europe, with an economy based on agriculture, which was backwards and unproductive. This made it hard to raise enough finance in order to invest in industry. To modernise the economy in 1882 Nikolai Bunge reduced the tax for peasents, and created a land bank so peasents could increase the size of their landholding and become more productive. In Vyshnegradsky offered financial incentives for peasents to move to Siberia to reduce land hunger- this still didnt avoid the famine in 1891. Loans were also taken out from other countries- France and Britian for development. 

The whole of Russia was underpinned by the power of the okhana secret police, which worked to stop revolutionary ideas spreading 

However re-establishing the Tsars authority had come at a cost, political freedom had been suppressed and the rights of ethnic minorities had been limited. This created a lot of resentment to the Tsarist regime within Russia. The peasant population continued to grow, placing pressure on land use and causing famines in 1891, 2 and 3. The persecution of Jews caused many to join radical groups.

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Nicholas II

Nicholas’ commitment to autocracy was unwavering, as he believed that his right to rule was appointed by God, and hence didn’t see how his judgement should be questioned. He believed that because of the scale of Russia the country needed to be ruled strongly, meaning he saw calls for reform as ‘senseless dreams’.

Russia was the most autocratic state in Europe; it had no constitution (rules which defines the power of the government- meaning the Tsar could do whatever he liked), no parliament, governors were ministers appointed and accountable to the Tsar.

Nicholas was seen by many to be indecisive and naive. He was distrustful of his ow ministers, and so would waste time dealing with the smallest disputes himself- not wanting to delegate. It was also said that he spent a lot of time praying during times of crisis rather than taking immediate action. Effectively he was a poor leader of Russia, and would miss out on the bigger picture- ignoring problems and petitions for political reform.

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The impact of emancipation

Before 1861, a huge issue stunting industrialisation was Serfdom. 80% of the population was made up of peasants- half of whom were serfs. This system was a huge negative for economic development, as not enough grain surplus could be made to sell to create the wealth needed to industrialise.

When freedom was granted to the serfs, they were able to own their own houses on their plots. However, they had to pay redemption payments to the government for this for 49 years, and were subject to control by village communes, with land being distributed between them in relation to family size. If a former serf wanted to leave a village they still had to ask the elders.

This issue was compounded by the rapid increase in the population, from 1861-1814 to 130 million. This meant most farms were only substance farms. And by 1880 only 50% of farms were producing enough surplus to be sold. On top of this most farm owners were in debt, and could afford to make improvements to boost agricultural productivity.  

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The Great Spurt- Witte, 1892-1903

Finance minister Witte aimed to help industrialise Russia, so it would maintain its position as one of the great powers of Europe, despite it having:

-  A small business class

-  Limited freedom of peasant movement- were not free to move into towns and cities for work.

-  Low funds

To do this more importance was placed on the production of capital goods, such as coal and steel. Most finance came from other government, such as Britain and France, and extra taxes placed on the Russian public.

The trans-Siberian railway was also developed, across the whole of Russia, this opened up communication throughout Russia and allowed the infrastructure to exploit the economic possibilities in Siberia.

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Impact of the Witte system

Production of iron, coal and steel rose, and the railway was almost completed by 1903, helping to increase the influence of Russia in the Far East as industrial growth was centred in western cities. Cities such as St Petersburg almost doubled in population (1890-1914, 1 million to 2 million). This economic development allowed Russia to exploit the reserves in Siberia, and to develop and improve its military.

However the large growth of towns and cities helped to develop poor living conditions, creating the climate for social unrest, and ideas of radical alternatives to Tsarism. However despite this Russia still lagged behind other great powers of Russia, and continued heavy taxation caused resentment to the government, and peasant uprisings became more common.

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Organised opposition to the Tsarist regime before

Peasants – peasant unrest was frequent but localised, it was not directly against the government- as even though high taxes and redemption payments were an issue attacks were focused on landowners. Most causes were due to poverty- poor soil led to a short growing season. In the southern Black Earth region there was crop failures and famine. Methods of production (stip farming) was inefficient as there was land wasted showing borders, and time was wasted moving. There was also little incentive to improve land, due to periodic reallocation by the mir.

Workers – unrest usually led to strikes, which could be brutal- army called out 500 times in 1902. Causes of unrest were poor living and working conditions (low pay, long hours, fines, no health and safety) many people could not understand good quality housing and so lived in slums where diseases like cholera spread easily.

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Organised opposition to the Tsarist regime before

Middle class – included businessmen, doctors, lawyers ect. This was a small but expanding group. This educated class were more likely to be more moderate liberals, who practised non-violent methods and still supported the Tsar as a figurehead. The university system had expanded rapidly to help benefit the economy with higher skilled workers. Series of clashes between students and professors radicalised some students.

Another place of opposition was the Zemstvo- who were given responsibility in relief efforts after famines. This gave them ideas of having a national voice, and became angry when this question was ignored.

In the early 1900s left wing zemstvo liberals joined with radicalised students in the Liberation Movement. In 1902 founded the newspaper ‘liberation’ printed in Germany. 1904 started having secret meetings, establishing the League of Liberation, with Paul Milyukov as a leading figure. In 1904 during the Russo-Japanese war they launched the ‘banquet campaign’ to mobilise liberal opinion in support of political change.

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Radical parties

The first racial thinkers in Russia were members of the Populist Party, disliked the Tsars autocracy and supported the ideas of independent peasant communes with local democracies. Eventually this turned into the ‘peoples will’ terror group whose main aim was to remove members of the Tsarist authority- and assassinated Alexander II in 1881. This eventually founded the Social Democrats and the Social Revolutionaries.

Social Revolutionaries – believed Russia’s future lay with the peasants and workers. Led by Victor Chernov- a member of the educated middle class. They promised that peasants would receive their own land without compensating previous owners. The party was never strongly knit, and contained many factions from radical to moderate. The SR’s acknowledged that in order to overthrow they would have to use violence, and carried out assassinations of government officials- leading to terror attacks.

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Radical parties (2)

Social Democrats – focused on the Marxist views of Western Europe, however this required industrial development, which was beginning to happen under Witte’s great spurt. However due to the economic structure of Russia this had to be adapted to a specific Marxist revolution to Russia. The social democrats split into two parties, after Lenin demanded that the party’s membership should be limited to those who were dedicated and would be prepared to lead a workers revolution. The Mensheviks disagreed with this, and felt that anyone who believed in the party’s aims should be able to join. With the first vote the Mensheviks won, but then after the Jewish bund faction left the congress the Bolsheviks won in the second vote.

Liberals -  the beginnings of liberalism started with the creation of the zemstvo, giving more political power to local communities. The league of liberation was founded 1904, and the party split in 1905 into the Octoberists and the Kadets (who rejected the October manifesto in favour of further political reform)

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Reasons for the limited impact of opposition group

Social factors:

 - Hard to organise peasants into a significant political force, as they made up a vast population- 80%. There was a huge spread of land, transport and communication barriers.

-  21% of the population could read in 1897, so it was hard to gain followers by distributing pamphlets promotional leaflets ect.

-  Leaders of opposition parties consisted of upper and middle classes, making it hard for workers to trust them, leading to a lack of members to the party’s.


- Before 1905 opposition parties were illegal and operated in secret. Limitations in freedom of speech and fear of the law deterred people from joining.

- Revolutionary leaders were cut off from followers, and exiled. So they had little influence over events happening in Russia- the Okhrana constantly monitored them- even whilst on exile.

- Repression and violence was maintained by the regular police force, and the army.

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Reasons for the limited impact of opposition group

Divisions between opposition groups:

-          Each different group had different aims, eg both liberals and socialists wanted to overthrow tsarism, but socialists wanted to bring social and economic change as well- developing a communist society.

-          The groups were disorganised and could not work together effectively, so were unable to make a significant standing.

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Reasons for the 1905 revolution

Social and economic causes (Long-term)

The vast majority of the population was living in poverty and there had been several famines, introducing land hunger, on top of this a rise in population placed more demand on the land. Peasants reacted to the famines with anger, attacking government officials and destroying records on landholdings. On top of this rapid industrialisation caused more people to move into cities- where they lived in poverty.

Political causes (long-term)

Russia had no elected national parliament, with only the zemstvo being elected. By 1905 there was a large demand for political reform. This led to the development of several political opposition groups, which began to gain a larger following

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Reasons for the revolution (Russo-Japanese war)

Russia was an expansionist power and wanted influence in the Far East where the Chinese empire was in decline. They were interested in the province of Manchuria, with rich mineral wealth and the warm water sea port- Port Arthur. The main rival in gaining this was Japan who was a rising industrial and military power. In the 1890s there was tension between these countries, 1894-5 japan defeated china for Port Arthur, but other European powers made japan back down. 1998 Russia persuaded china to give it Port Arthur, this angered Japan, and in 1904 Japan attacked. Nicholas II believed it would be easy to defeat Japan, and believed a short and successful war would actually solve Russia’s domestic issues.

In January 1905 Port Arthur surrendered to Japan, and in February the Russian army lost the battle of Mukden. In May the navy was defeated in the battle of Tsushima, Russia main fleet was trapped in Port Arthur, so Nicholas ordered the Baltic fleet to sail to Port Arthur. They travelled or 8 months and then was annihilated in battle. In September the Treaty of Portsmouth gave Japan land including port Arthur.

Consequences of the Russo-Japanese warLiberals was angered at how the war was mishandled, and hostility to the Tsar grew. They saw the military setback to aid their cause. They saw the regime as vulnerable and began to challenge it more boldly.  Economic life was disrupted by the war, bringing unemployment and inflation, causing discontent within the working classes.

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Reasons for the 1905 revolution (Bloody Sunday)

Organised by Father Gapon an orthodox priest and the leader of the assembly of Russian factory and mill workers. Before this Gapon had links with the Okhrana secret police. On 9th of January 1905, 150,000 unarmed demonstrators (industrial workers) gathered in St Petersburg to meet at the winter palace. However before they were able to meet protesters were shot at by the army causing approximately 200 deaths and 800 injuries.

The demonstrators had the aim of presenting their petition to Nicholas, which kindly asked for improvements in working conditions- and did not criticise the Tsar in any way, in fact at this point the public did not hate the Tsar- only his ministers, and looked to him as a father as someone who would listen to them and offer protection. The tsar was not actually in the palace and did not order the army to shoot, however this was not known at the time causing resentment of the Tsar to spread.

Following bloody Sunday demonstrations swept across Russia, with 500,000 workers striking- causing Universities to close for the remainder of the year.

This was the most important trigger for the revolution, as it struck closer to home than the war in Japan.

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Spread of revolutionary activity

All of the main groups within society took part in the protests or revolutionary activities in the 1905 revolution.

-          - There were armed mutinies in the army

-         -  Limited impact as did not work together- but were isolated across different areas of Russia ‘series of parallel rebellions’

-          - Until autumn middle class liberals were the main force, and placed the most pressure on the government

-          - In late 1905 the labour movement also gained force, leading to workers strikes and the st Petersburg soviet causing the most chaos to the government.

-         -  On the North West border there were issues with the anti-Russian Polish who began clashing with the army.

-          - The countryside stayed relatively quiet until autumn when they began to stage attacks on land owners, in attempt to dive them out and into cities.

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St Petersburg Soviet

Made up of elected representitives of industrial workers, and each represented about 500 workers. In october 1905, it included 562 representatives, 147 factories, 34 shops, and 34 trade unions. There was also a 30 member executive commititee, 9 were nominees of the Mensheviks, Bolsheviks and SRs. 

After being set up as a strike comitee 50 other towns had similar soviets within weeks. However they remained after the general strike and set up a newspaper, armed militia to defend the revolution, acted as an unofficial government body, political campaigning. 

The group campaigned for an 8 hour working day, gave support to Polish rebels, and mutineers in the Russian navy. However in December they were arrested and imprisioned. 

The main point of the group was to organise strikes and to ensure striking workers had food, although they did publicise demands for radical social reform. The soviet showed the government that the workers were capable of organising themselves and challenging the government in a coordinated way.

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August Manifesto

Nicholas did not take the revolutionary activity seriously to begin with, and his ministers had to persuade him of how serious the events were. His first instincts were to use force, but the army was occupied fighting Japan and the revolution was widespread. 

To cool the situation in January the government promised to look into the conditions of workers in factories in St Petersburg, however this never happened. 

Febuary it was announced that there was to be an electorial assembally held, and to be consulted before laws were introduced. However even the liberals were unimpressed with this. 

In August a manifesto was published, to begin the elected assembaly of the Duma, which was to be used to advise and consult on new laws but had no real power, the complex electorial system also favoured peasents and landholders. 

In short this did little to please any of the Russian public. 

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October Manifesto

In October workers staged a general strike, this caused significant unrest to Russia as production ceased and so the country found it difficult to operate. To try and calm this situation Nicholas turned towards Witte who was now effectively the prime minister, he advised the Tsar to use either military power or concessions. Nicholas chose concessions in the form of the October Manifesto, this gave more basic freedoms (like speech, and trade unions and political parties), it also gave more power to the Duma- meaning that laws could only be passed with the Dumas approval. It also allowed votes for all classes.

This Manifesto was seen as a positive, and the strike was called off. The moderate liberals and upper middle classes were pleased because the Duma achieved a mix of democracy and the retention of monarchy. Hence the Octoberist party was founded from those who supported the manifesto. Radical liberals said the Manifesto did not introduce enough political reform, and they wanted an elected assembly to draw up a constitution. They began to distrust the government- believing they would go back on their promises, they then formed the Kadet party (which Milyukov led).

Socialist parties entirely denounced the manifesto, however the revolution had been stopped regardless as the vast majority of the opposition had been split, and the opposition was now blunted.

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Why did the revolution end?

Loyalty of the armed forces

Although there was some mutinies (such as the mutiny of the crew of the battleship Potemkin, who killed some of their officers, and bombarded the black sea port of Odessa before making their way to the neutral country Romania), however the majority of the armed forces stayed loyal to the tsar. This meant that the disturbances caused by the revolution could be easily crushed with military force.

The government also began to reassert authority in October 1905 by supporting the formation of the political group- the ‘union of Russia people’ a pro government group linked to the terrorist group- the black hundreds. The counter revolutionary group hunted down and executed many revolutionary leaders.

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Why did the revolution end?

Lack of unity among revolutionaries

There was a lack of central organisation to the revolution, the spontaneity of the revolutionary activity meant that the army, police and black hundreds were able to suppress them. And strikes were uncoordinated and so did limited damage.

The political groups all had very different aims, this meant that instead of fighting towards a common goal they often fought amongst themselves rather than the government.

Splitting the opposition                                                   

The October manifest helped to split the opposition towards the government, forming a turning point in the revolution giving the Tsar a foothold in order to regain control.

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Moscow uprising

In late 1905 the government had regained enough of its power to end the St Petersburg soviet, who went down without a fight. However in Moscow the dismantling of their soviet caused a general uprising. In early December the Moscow soviet called for a general strike organised by militant Bolsheviks. Weapons were also distributed to workers to form an armed uprising.

The government responded to this with force and the army began to clear the barricades on the streets, and used artillery fire to gain control of the working class. After the street battles there was mass arrests, beatings and executions which in total killed over 1000 people.

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The fundamental laws- April 1906

In the October manifesto the Tsar gave power to the Duma, so no laws could be passed without its approval. However by early 1906, before the first Duma met, the Tsar began to feel more secure and the Fundamental laws were formed in order for the Tsar to regain some control.

It insisted on the Tsar continuing supremacy within Russia’s government system- ‘the all-Russian emperor possesses the supreme autocratic power’. A number of important areas of governmental activity- such as defence and foreign affairs were preserved to the Tsar alone. The Tsar was also made able to proclaim new laws without the Dumas approval when it was not in session. They would have to be checked by the Duma eventually but this could be delayed for months or even years.

The tsar was also able to dissolve the Duma at any time of his choosing, and the Imperial State Council was set up, which was an unelected and conservative body appointed by the tsar and corporate bodies such as the nobility and the Church. This Council had the same rights as the Duma and so were able to block or veto what the Duma did. The Tsar also had the sole right to appoint and dismiss government ministers, they could be called to the Duma for questioning but not fired.

The laws also contained provisions guaranteeing the basic freedoms which had been introduced, and gave the power to introduce laws which restricted individual rights, or suspension of individual rights in an emergency.   

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The Duma

The first Duma- Elections into the first Duma were open to a broad perspective, however the SR’s and Bolsheviks both boycotted the elections. The largest political groups elected into the Duma were the Trudoviks- radicals supporting workers and peasants, the kadets, and progressives- liberal middle class businessmen. The duma wished to introduce more political reform- like land reform and the release of political prisoners. However requests for these were refused and the Duma passed a vote of no confidence of the Prime Minister. This resulted in the Duma being dissolved after 72 days. In this time they passed 391 requests against what they saw as illegal government action, and only two resolutions had been passed.

After this early dissolution, groups of Duma deputies went to Vyborg in Finland and issued the Vyborg Manifesto which asked the Russian people to resist the Tsars action by not paying taxes. This plan backfired and the 200 people who formed the manifesto were fired.

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The Duma

The second Duma- the number of Kadets halved, as so many were banned from elections after the Vyborg Manifesto. However both SR and Social Democrats gained seats. Under the guidance of Stolypin the Duma managed to pass the land reforms. However the duma only lasted for three months, as they criticised the army which angered Tsarist supporters. After this the police framed radical members of the Duma for trying to encourage mutinies and gave the Tsar an excuse to dissolve the Duma. 

The third and fourth Dumas- to ensure that there was greater support of the government in the next Dumas elections were restricted to the wealthy- and the richest 30% of males could vote. This excluded most revolutionary supporters. So pro government parties gained more seats and Stolypin was able to further push land reforms. It was clear that the third and fourth Duma thwarted attempts at reform, however as the duma was less radical the government was more inclined to listen to them. So the 3rd duma lasted it full term and the 4th lasted until the outbreak of WW1.

Although the duma did not achieve what it was hoped to in terms of political reform, it was successful in influencing public opinion as duma debates were reported in the press, and so political parties had the means to influence public opinion legitimately- something they had previously struggled to do as radical newspapers were banned.

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Nicholas' relations with the Dumas

The Tsar hated the Dumas and did little to hide this. 1906- wrote to one of his ministers complaining about the 'damned duma'. openly praised the Union of Russian People who called for the dissolve of the Duma. this hatred came as he believed the Duma had no right to exist as he had the right to autocracy. 

It was claimed that it was Witte who forced him to agree to setting up the Duma. 

He never saw the Duma, and left its management to his ministers, he complained in 1907 that the second Duma was not dissolved soon enough. 

Despite the third and fourth Dumas being primarily made up of Octoberists and right wingers with revolutionary parties having less than 100 seats, the tsar was still hostile and Guchkov (leader of the octoberists) annoyed him for several reasons: 1907 he said Russia was no longer an autocracy; 1908 critisiced the royal family holding high military positions; 19012 attacked the growing influence of Rasputin. 

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Nature of Tsarist government in 1914

The Fundamental Laws limited the Duma in law making, meaning Nicholas could do as he liked in defence, foreign affairs, public order ad could pass new laws whilst the Duma wasnt in session. HOWEVER the fundamental laws did act as a consitution of sorts. 

the Duma wasnt able to impose its will on the Tsar, and the government was able to quickly dissolve the Duma HOWEVER the duma was a nationally elected legilative body which had never existed in Russia previously. 

the rule of law is usually absent in autocratic states, the government broke the fundamental laws when the 1905 electorial law was changed but nothing happened. 

HOWEVER in 1914 political parties were free to critisise the regime within limits, which was not allowed before, the press was also more free. 

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Stolypin and repression

1905-7 european russia suffered serious disorder due to land hunger, involving rent strikes, land seizures, physical violence- in 1907 3000 died in terror attacks (many were government officials). However unrest was NOT coordinated. 1905; army units sent to the areas of greatest unrest - leaving 15000 dead and 20000 wounded, 45000 exiled to siberia Trans-Siberian railway was made safe but problems still continued and the army wasn’t able to go everywhere. Redemption payments were reduced but as they were supposed to end in 1910 anyway this didn’t make a huge difference 

In may 1906 Durnovo was replaced by Stolypin, in august Stolypin declared the state of emergency for European Russia this gave the authorities the power to imprison without trial for up to 6 months and to exile trouble makers.  Introduced courts of 5 army officers to impose punishments on peasants- called field court marshals; this included the right to hear cases in 24hs, secret trials, no right to legal representation, max 2 day trials, death sentence within 24hrs of verdict, no appeals. 1906-7 more than 1000 sentenced to death, 1000s to Siberia, reputation of Stolypin’s necktie. 

Authority reasserted in the countryside by 1808. 

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Actions against revolutionary parties

Parties were not outlawed but leaders were arrested or driven abroad

1906 Trotsky and other leaders of the SP soviet were put on trial after a year and exiled to Siberia, and by 1914 most revolutionary leaders had fled to London, Paris, Zurich or Geneva.

After the 2nd duma was dissolved revolutionary parties were targeted once again, Bosheviks were arrested and charged with inicating mutinies in the military. 

Social Democrats and Revolutionaries were arrested- 2000 in Voronezh 

B and SR boosted their funds by robbing banks which brought attention from authority. 

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Reform of agricultural landholdings

Stolypin was unapologetic about his use of repression to restore order, but felt that reforms was also needed if Tsarism was going to continue in the long-term. Hence he decided that land reforms were the best way to do this. He planned to try and break up the village commune, stop ***** farming and make it so peasants were able to own their own farms and fields. This was planned to bring economic benefits;

People with their own farms would be more motivated to improve their land as they no longer had to swap *****s every 10-15 years. Leading to higher levels of production, ensuring the supply of food to the working class in the cities (ending strikes over food shortages) and would be able to export food to gain capital for investment in the industrial sector.

And political benefits; Ownership of your own land would create an attachment to private ownership, ending thoughts of communism. Also peasants that benefited from the scheme would be assumed to begin supporting the Tsar again.

The reforms allowed peasants the right to demand that their share of communal land be turned into his own private property. Land organisation committees were set up to solve disputes over the land reforms. The rules at the peasant land bank were relaxed so peasants were able to borrow money at favourable rates to develop their land.

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Emigration to Siberia

Between 1906 and 1913 peasants were encouraged to migrate to Siberia (3.5million), this was made easy to do by the increased transport infrastructure with the construction of the trans-Siberian railway, and the cheap fertile land. This helped to reduce the overpopulation and land hunger in the black earth region. 20% did not settle and moved back.

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Drawbacks of the reforms

- after a year or two the rush to take advantage of the reforms slowed and the peasants saw no need to change their tradditional methods of farming, and the people who did swap became victimised. 

- by 1914 0nly 20% of peasants had left the village commune and, and half of these did not own their own land, just their own stripps in the commune. 

- there was increased agricultural production- but due to good harvests and increased use of machinary and fertilisers, not the reforms. 

- reforms did not address land hunger because uncultivated land was not included in the reforms, so no more land could be taken on to farm by peasants. 

Stolypin also tried to bring reform in other areas such as; education (complusory from 8-12) workers rights (proper compensations for injuries- industrialists said this was too expensive) and politics (wanted to get rid of land captians and give the zemstava more power). 

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Lena goldfields massacre 1912

Gold was found in Siberia in the early 19th century, this industry was dominated by the Lena Goldfields company, and the shareholders of this included many members of the nobility including the Tsars mother.

Strikes began after rancid horsemeat was served in the canteen, the protests escalated to a large strikes, demanding a 30% wage increase, 8 hour day and medical care.

When the industry got to a relative standstill troops were sent and arrested the leader, strikers then organised a march to protest this, this caused 90 soldiers opened fire on 3000 unarmed protesters.

Terms were still not met with bosses so in late 1912 10,000 of the workers gave up their positions and were replaced with Korean and Chinese migrants.  

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Russia's role in WW1

the war stareted well in the Russia, and an increased sense of patriotism was a positive for the Tsar. Even students who had reccently protested the tsar began protesting outside the German embassy. 

however this was short lived, in August 1914 Russia entered the east of Germany- this advance from the Russians caused the Germans to fail their war plan (the schieffen plan), and army units headed to france were diverted to the east. at the beginning of September the Russian advance was holted at the Battle of Tannenburg- where the Russians suffered a crushing defeat. 30,000 killed/injured, 95,000 prisioners, only 10,000 escaped. however the germans only suffered 20,000 casulties. 

In December 1914 the Germans defeated the Russians at the Battle of Lodz. At the end of 1915 the Russians being driven out of Russian Poland caused Nicholas to make his worst decision- and placed himself as commander in chief of the army. Despite having no military experiance, and several million soldiers. The running of the country was taken over by the Tsarina, whilst Nicholas was at the Eastern Front. 

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Russia's role in WW1

Russia launched their last offense in June 1916, which started well, and caused the Romanians to enter the war on Russias side, however by August the Brusilov Offensive had run out of power, and the Russians retreated from the Baltic to the Black sea. 

Their were many reasons for this failure, Nicholas was incompatant as a commanded, and there was poor internal communications with the railway (being adapted with narrower tracks to prevent German invasion but succedded in stopping trains from exiting the country to suppy troops). Despite Russia being economically developed enough to succeed in the war, with production of shells reaching 4.5 m in september 1916, in comparison germany produced 7m and had to fight o two fronts. But poor supply meant russian troops did not recieve this equipment. 

by december 1916, 1.6m were dead, 3.9m wounded, 2.4 prisioners of war. 

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The Impact of the War


- taxes were increased to pay for the war

- loans from Britian and France 

- Government printed more money, which led to inflation. Prices increased by 200% August 1914- December 1916. And meant peasants hoarded stocks. 

- earnings doubled, but the price of food and fuel quardrupled. 

- decline in foreign trade, and export of grain

- 15.3 men experianced military service, 9% of population. loss of agricultural workers and farm horses caused strain on the production of food, and the takeover of trains by the army caused a shortage of food in the city , Eg moscow august 1914 2200 railway wagons of food per month, Dec 1916 only 300 wagons. 

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The Impact of the War


- mutinies and desertations in the army 

- lack of equipment and good organisation 

- loss of so many men caused a resentment against the state as no gains were felt, caused a loss of domestic support. 

- transport of troops caused pressures on the transport systems 

- Turkish involvement against the Entente meant the Dardanelles were closed so GB and France couldnt transport supply to Russia. 

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the zemstva across Russia, formed the zemstva union, which undertook war relief work, providing medical care, operated feild canteens, assisted refugees and dug graves. 

the Munciple corperations (counterpart of the zemstva in towns) formed a seperate organisation- the union of towns which did similar relief work. 

1n 1915 the two organisations joined forces, forming Zemgor. together they diversified into production, making uniforms, pharmicuticals, and munitions. this was a contrast to the lack lustre performance of the government- and showed dedication to the Russian populations with selflessness and proved the Russian ministers were putting the state to shame.  

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The progressive bloc

The Duma was recalled in summer 1915, after pressure was put on the Tsar from opposing polititions angry at the bad management of the war. When the Duma met, everyone apart from the far Left and Right formed the 'progressive bloc' which demanded for a 'government of public confidence' where the ministers would become responsible to the Duma- rather than the Tsar, forming a unified government, with the Tsar still present.

However the Tsar rejected this a threat to his power, and dismissed ministers who supported the idea, and only appointed highly conservative minister from then on. 

This lead to growing discontent and the fear that a comprimise with Nicholas would never be felt- as he had not dealt with his opposition effectivly. 

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The roles of Nicholas, Alexandra and Rasputin

Nicholas II

- august 1915, became commander in chief of the army, in order to set an example and restore calm, this position was mostly cerimonal and he left key decisions to commanders (however his position as the figurehead of the Russian army, meant repsponsibility for faliures was directed to him). the new position meant he spent little time in Petrograd, and the Tsarina and Rasputin were able to effectivly run the country 


- German princess (nationality caused distrust in the war), granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She avoided St Petersurg society as she belived it was too decadent. Strong willed and unstable, ultra conservaive and urged the Tsar not to make concessions to liberals. 

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The roles of Nicholas, Alexandra and Rasputin


- religious man, with a reputation as a holy man and a healer, the Tsarina idolised him for curing her sons haemophilia- however the rest of Russia did not know of his condition and so was confused about rasputins growing influence in the palace. 

- lived a life of debauchery, sin and shady financial dealings. 

- it is argued that when Nicholas was away at war Rasputin had full control of domestic policy, and was able to manipulate Alexandra. however this may have been overexadurated by revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the regime. 

- Was eventually murdered, by a group including the Tsars nephew and the husband of one of his nieces. 

- the gossip that circulated around Russia about the royal family caused the tsarist regime great harm, with even the most loyal russians from 1905 standing up against it. 

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Growth of unrest in the towns and countryside


- the rate of price inflation accelerated as the war went on, but wages didnt keep up. 

- 16-17 the purchasing power of industrial workers fell by nearly 50%

- 16-17 harsh winter, but fuel was scarce and expesive, leading to labour unrest. 

- 1916, 0.75m working days lost due to strikes, seeking an end to the war and the Tsar


- also suffered inflation 

- nearly 2m killed and 5m wounded/pow, so farm work had to be done by women and children leading to resentment 

- animals requisitioned for the war, so inferior animals not fit for work had to make do 

- wives allowance did not increase with inflation so could not pay for basic goods 

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Growth of unrest in the towns and countryside


- the rate of price inflation accelerated as the war went on, but wages didnt keep up. 

- 16-17 the purchasing power of industrial workers fell by nearly 50%

- 16-17 harsh winter, but fuel was scarce and expesive, leading to labour unrest. 

- 1916, 0.75m working days lost due to strikes, seeking an end to the war and the Tsar


- also suffered inflation 

- nearly 2m killed and 5m wounded/pow, so farm work had to be done by women and children leading to resentment 

- animals requisitioned for the war, so inferior animals not fit for work had to make do 

- wives allowance did not increase with inflation so could not pay for basic goods 

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The Petrograd Demonstrations

The Febuary revolution began as a series of unorganised demonstrations in Petrograd. on the 9th of January 140,000 workers striked to commemorated bloody sunday. on the 31st strikes about the food shortages occured accross Russia, and on the 14th of Feb 100,000 workers striked protesting food shortage and working conditions. On the same day the Duma reconviened and attacked the government over the food shortages, however the government only made this worse and on the 19th announced bread rationings starting on March 1st. 

On the 23rd of Feb tens of thousands of women took to the streets to commemorate international womens day, this coincided with a strike at the Putilov engineering works and the demonstrators together numbered over 100,000. the next day this continued and Soviets began to form to come up with demands against the government. 

By the 25th demonstrators rose to 200,000 and the government began trying to regain control. newspapers were shut down, and public transport closed. Cossack troops (notoriously loyal to the Tsar) refused to fire over the demonstrators and the elite Pavlosky life guards refused to carry out orders. Showing the army was beginning to desert the government (unlike in 1905). 

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The Provisional Committee

the duma formed a 12 man committee to take over the running of the country- becoming the provisional government. forming the first government in Russia after the fall of the Tsar. 

The strike starting sontaneously over food shortages had become a political refolution and the Tsar travelled back to St Petersburg, offering to share power with the Duma (however they declined this offer). 

On the 1st of March the workers soviets which had been forming since the 24th joined forces to form the Petrograd soviet. Together they issued 'order number 1' which demanded all officers in the army be elected by their men. representing the rapid deterioration of authority. 

Nicholas' train was stopped in Pskov on the 2nd of March by anti-government soldiers, and from there he was advised by telegrams from army commanders and ministers to abdicate the throne. He took this advise and abdicated in behalf of his son as well- who he feared was to ill for the position. he passed the throne to his brother who declined the position, ending the Romonov Dynasty. 

On the same day Prince Lvov became prime minister of the provisional government. 

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Reasons for the abdication of the Tsar

- WW1

- Economy 

- Politics 

- Role of individuals 

- Lack of traditional support 

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