Russia and its Rulers 1855-1964 (Russian Rulers)

Covers the Russian Rulers aspect of the themed course by OCR

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Alexander II (1)

  • Alexander II attempted to win over the nobles and landowners by introducing reform. The weaknesses were identified during the Crimean War.
  • When coming to power, the situation was a backward country.
  • Russia had around 95% agricultural economy, poor infrastructure and communications, lack of demand, lack of modernisation and poor literacy rates.
  • After asking nobles on their opinion of emancipation of the serfs in 1856, he set up a secret committee to organise this. This consisted of liberal nobles such as Samarin. Emancipation Act came in 1861.
  • Alexander II was a tall, handsome, educated autocrat that ruled personally. Seen as best prepared for Tsardom. He thoroughly believed in his own policies, emancipating his own serfs from the royal estates in 1858.
  • Believed that power lies in the nobles, so peasants were charged heavy redemption payments and taxes after the emancipation. This source of income was seen as more important than modernisation.
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Alexander II (2)

  • Peasants could buy land from the nobles at a high rate with heavy interest, therefore effects of emancipation were minimal and the wealth of the nobles increased up to 1914.
  • Decentralisation of local matters were overseen by an elected Zemstvo after reform in 1864. There were provincal and district councils elected from largely nobles, with some priests, townsman and peasants. They controlled schooling, roads and poor relief.
  • Law reforms saw lower bribary rates by higher pay of the Judicary. They became more independant of the state. Special cases of national security was taken out separately.
  • Educational reforms by Golovnin allowed greater access to university. Following assassination attempt on Alex II in 1866, curriculum was based more on classical studies than more radical sciences.
  • Universal conscription in 1874 gave way for a large scale armed force. 6 years of service were required.
  • Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 by the People's Will, a terrorist group from Land and Liberty.
  • Home life was very private, with his wife Marie of Hesse rarely seen in public.
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Alexander III (1)

  • Implemented a reactionary policy to fight the assassination of his father.
  • A very traditional leader, believing in orthodoxy, autocracy and the military. He came from a military background, so took his reign as a fight against internal enemies.
  • Peasant redemption payments were reduced and a peasant land bank established in 1882 allowed investment in capital. Poll tax was abolished in 1886.
  • Keen lover of the arts, setting up his own collection in a major gallery.
  • Working conditions in 1882 improved and the hours that could be worked were limited.
  • Alex III embraced anti-Semitism and Russification, both policies popular with nationalist groups. The orthodox Church upheld these measures and Jews were suspended from university.
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Alexander III (2)

  • Press censorship was increased in 1882.
  • Control over peasants was upheld by Land Captains and violation of tenancy agreements a criminal offence.
  • Zemstvo's position decreased and roles taken on by government officials.
  • Increase in secret trials for political offences.
  • Essentially de liberalised Alex II's reforms.
  • Only the richest could vote in local Zemstvo's and peasant reps were appointed instead.
  • The Okhrana influence increased. They limited influence of teachers, writers, councillors, peasants and religious people outside of the Orthodoxy.
  • Okhrana was the 'security division' set up in 1881, abolished after the February Revolution in charge of detection and punishment of political criminals. Made up of undercover agents and spies.
  • Bureaucracy was used to enforce religious, racial and nationalism.
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Nicholas II (1)

  • Dual policy of repression and rapid economic growth.
  • No concern for a change in Nature of Government.
  • Nicholas II preferred a greater domestic policy, with little concern for counter-terrorism.
  • A resentment in Russification and Anti-Semitism grew within the working class, who gathered in greater numbers with growth in industry.
  • Anti-Semitism allowed political exiles to influence the peasants and blot the morality of the Tsar.
  • Modernisation of agriculture and military increased the nobilities political and economic power.
  • Towns, industries and communications developed at a huge level, in which the Tsar needed to remain in control.
  • Despite prosperity, it took war and revolution to force Nicholas II into change.
  • Nicholas II's government was far less liberal than Alex II's, so liberalism throughout the period was low. 
  • Continuity of Alex III's policy of Russification, repression of political ideas and state backed industrialisation characterised Nicholas II's reign. 
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Nicholas II (2)

  • A woeful war with Japan in 1904-5 saw a revolution on Bloody Sunday 1915.
  • Forcing of political concessions in 1905 led to the October Manifesto, promising a national parliament, freedom of speech, press and association.
  • Nic II still had power over the new elected Duma, which controlled state officials. However, much influence came from the Tsars officials, hand picked by him.
  • The Duma split opposition for a time and moderates in support of the Tsar.
  • Betrayal of manifesto promises, and restrictions on the Duma eroded support.
  • The Duma was under used as a means of communications with the peasant.
  • During the First World War, Nicholas II took on the role of commander in Chief despite his lack of experience.
  • Military reforms and expansion was attempted as well as economic improvements.
  • Stolypin's agricultural reforms arranged ownership of the lands, but did not tackle hunger, population growth or land distribution.
  • Farm products were sold on markets, showing more economic freedom.
  • Nic II did not provide the right economic structure for a thriving city industry.
  • Crime rates increased and gang culture emerged in the slums.
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The Provisional Government (1)

  • Group of men from the old Duma that ran the country after the Tsar abdicated.
  • They had little legitimacy unlike the 'divine right' of the Tsar.
  • Russia was stuck in a war, with an illiberal society. The Provisional Government needed to form an educated middle class, liberal market economy and democracy.
  • Liberal policies in March 1917 were a great leap. Freedom of press, movement, politics and banning of secret police.
  • Peasant land seizures occurred without being prevented, which saw lack of law and order.
  • Lenin could easily offer land to the peasants, as could the Social Revolutionaries.
  • Provisional Government needed foreign recognition, and sacrificed their men in order to achieve this through continued involvement in WW1.
  • PG were distracted by practical and domestic problems, so held back elections.
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The Provisional Government (2)

  • New political leaders were not know nationally as the revolution occurred in the capital, no in the whole country.
  • Areas drifted out of any control, shown by the land seizures and the soviet council of workers forming local governments.
  • Local police forces disintegrated.
  • Bolsheviks overthrew the PG in October, yet nobody knew of them either due to poor communications and education.
  • PG was first led by Prince Lvov, who was of poor ability. Kerensky emerged as a more powerful leader, fending off a coup from General Kornilov in July.
  • Reforms were not widespread so opposition made use of the crisis.
  • Lenin overthrew in October with false promises and a well organised coup taking Moscow and St. Petersburg. 
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Lenin (1)

  • Lenin had little legitimacy like the PG, however he claimed to rule in the name of the people.
  • His Bolshevik party ruled in the name of the workers, but faced great opposition from the Tsarists and liberals.
  • Lenin believed in a world-wide revolution and therefore signed large areas of Russia off to the Germans as he believed borders would not matter.
  • He was determined to save Russia from the Whites and Greens during the Civil War.
  • Very intelligent and a great speaker, he rapidly centralised all aspects of Russian society and government.
  • The constituent assembly had been dispersed as the Bolsheviks did not hold a majority, and there was a short lived alliance with the SR's to consolidate power.
  • Strict rule was applied to Russia, through confiscating grain, killing hostages and reinstating the secret police as the Cheka.
  • Political enemies were treated with brutality, such as nailing epaulettes to white officers shoulders and impaling Polish officers.
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Lenin (2)

  • Through oratory and scaremongery, the party became united.
  • Despite Lenin becoming target to assassination attempts, opposition was repressed.
  • Comintern was reformed in 1919 as a way of controlling worldwide socialism.
  • External and internal resistance were crushed by 1921, at a cost of enemies made with the peasants, who saw great requisitioning.
  • Industry declined and Russia was riddled with droughts, famines and required aid.
  • Lenin went against the beliefs of himself and his own party by allowing private trade in the countryside and small scale industrial enterprise.
  • The death toll of political prisoners had risen, as had the repression of the Cheka. 
  • He personally ordered slave labour, executions, hostages, waging class war.
  • Slowly he became more like the Tsars he actually hated 
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Stalin (1)

  • Was part of a period of collective leadership, with many candidates in the Politburo.
  • Lenin did not want Stalin (the General Secretary) to become leader as he was seen as 'too rude'.
  • Stalin's ascension occurred after Trotsky was sent into exile and supporters of the NEP were defeated.
  • Portrayed as a dull bureaucrat and a provincial boar.
  • He was well read and relatively cultivated as a person.
  • Stalin used the cult of Lenin too establish power, not after war or revolution like so many of his predecessors.
  • Wanted to create an agriculture based on communal ownership, not peasant landowning.
  • Fear of a fast growing industrial or agricultural economy leading to counter-revolution.
  • Easier to maintain power as there was no war to start with, and links with Germany and France had been established. 
  • The most important thing for Stalin was strength of defences.
  • Spent much of his time defeating opponents, despite a backward communication system. 
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Stalin (2)

  • Sheer lack of compromise was important, affecting all aspects of life.
  • Massive scale industrialisation.
  • Collectivisation of farmers products led to violence, mostly applied towards the peasants. 
  • Urbanisation and population boom.
  • Heavy reliance on state power to prevent opposition, and terror tactics were used.
  • Purges (show trials).
  • Large numbers of exiles, prisoners, death sentences, camps.
  • Labour Camps (Gulags) were housing millions of prisoners.
  • KGB (secret police) brought many suspected Anti-Soviets to trial.
  • War waged on the Kulaks.
  • Economy grew under the 5 year plans.
  • Seen as foolish to kill his own people out of distrust yet lay his trust with Hitler (Non Aggression Pact).
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Khrushchev (1)

  • Had to dominate the Politburo and eliminate his rivals. Beria (Stalinist) was shot and other rivals were demoted.
  • Terror of Stalin had left huge scars and Khrushchev had to dismantle this system yet keep control of the people.
  • Khrushchev knew he had to make reforms, yet not out of war or revolution.
  • Came from a peasant background and had worked in industry.
  • When coming into power, he slowly dismantled the Gulags, reduced political arrests and executions.
  • Public admission in 1956 20th Party Congress that 'Cult of Personality' was pursued on a 'Red Tsar' level under Stalin.
  • Khrushchev did not appear in uniforms and was not an icon.
  • Gained power by ousting opposition and offering freedom of expression and better relations with the West.
  • Decentralisation was pursued in the form of 100 regional councils, 'sovnarkhozy', in control of local production.
  • Opposition was treated much less harsh, mainly demotions instead of executions. 
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Khrushchev (2)

  • Khrushchev had a good sense of humour.
  • Shared the tactic with his predecessors of fostering his own authority.
  • Became party premier in 1958, following this, party membership increased to 10 million.
  • Destalinisation occurred, including the return of town names from a Stalinist origin, back to what they were previously know as. For example, Stalino became Donetsk.
  • Kept Leningrad and saw his grandeur as a link with Khruchchev's lack of it, as he appeared in rumpled suits.
  • Virgin Lands Scheme to increase cultivation of lands ultimately failed and famine occurred.
  • Peaceful Coexistence failed shown by the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Following CMC, demonstrations occurred by the workers, who were brutally put down.
  • Poor leadership qualities overall!  
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Very useful.



THESE ARE GREAT! Would love for the other topics to be up so I have the chance to actually pass History this year ha. Ps. The girl I sit by in History, Ellie Parfitt (Facebook her) wants to marry you because of this.

natasha walker


These are really helpful! Bloody Sunday was in 1905 not 1915 :)

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