Significance of the 1905 Russian Revolution


The October Manifesto

-Liberals were the first to be appeased; The October Manifesto was published which accepted the creation of a legislative Duma. This Duma could not pass laws, however could critisise and suggest new ones.

-The October Manifesto also promised freedom of speech, assembly and worship, and the legalisation of trade unions and political opposition. 

-There were four Dumas following the terms of the October Manifesto. It was introduced to pacify oppositional groups, especially the Liberals as it was seen as a step towards Capitalism.

-The Tsar appeared to grant significant concessions in the October Manifesto such as the Fundamental Laws (April 1906), which appeared to be reform. The Duma never intended to be a limit on the Tsar's powers, and the Fundamental Laws state that the 'sovereign emperor possesses the initiative in all legislative matters'. The Duma did not have any authority over the Tsar.

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Reduction and Abolishment of Redemption Payments

-In 1861 a series of 49'Redemption Payments were taken out following the Emancipation of the Serfs; a reformist policy by Alexander II. The peasants' freedom left them poor and in debt to the Tsar. In 1906 the Tsar halved the repayments so the peasants retained more money, and in 1907 they were scrapped all together.

-Over 80% of the population in Russia were peasants and as a result happier peasants left the Tsar under less pressure, and with less political opposition. The response was an immediate drop in the number of land-seizures by the peasants and a decline in the general lawlessness in the countryside. 

-The government was now only seriously opposed by the industrial workers. 

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Stolypin (1906-1911) and Land Reforms

-Peter Stolypin was appointed as President/Prime Minister in July 1906. He was a Political Conservative. His guide was supression first and then reform. 

-He had to solve Russia's problem of famine caused by bad harvests in 1891,1892,1897 and 1901. The governments land policies following the Emancipation of the Serfs had not helped, and peasants were now scared to carry out the new land bank policies.

-Stolypin planned to build on this idea of peasant wealth security. Farmers were urged to replace the inefficient ***** farming with fenced fields hoping the peasants would be pleased and follow the Tsar. 

-The wager on the strong policy needed 20 years for it to be successful, however Stolypin was assassinated in 1911, only 5 years after his policies were put into place.

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1st and 2nd Dumas (1906-1907)

The Tsar granted the Dumas in the October Manifesto in 1905.

The First Duma (April-June 1906)

-Dumas influence was limited by the Fundamental Laws. It stated 'Supreme autocratic power' and also the Duma would be bi-cameral; elected lower chamber and appointed chamber. Nothing would get passed unless the Tsar agreed. 

-Duma was dominated by reformists in the elected chamber, and they demanded increased rights within the Duma. The Tsar dissolved the Duma after 2 months, which angered Liberals. 200 Kadets and Labourists appealed to the people of Russia not to pay their taxes and to disobey orders. This was called the Vyborg appeal. Led to widespread violence and leaders were arrested.

MARTIAL LAW- (1906-1911)- There were over 2500 executions.

The Second Duma (February-June 1907)

Result of Vyborg appeal left the Kadets with half of their previous seats. Filled by SR's and SD's. Led to continuous disagreement with the Duma. Deputies were accused with orders on how army was run and Tsar dissolved the Duma.

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3rd and 4th Dumas (1907-1914)

The Third Duma (Nov1907-June1912)

The Tsar was keen to project Russia as a democratic nation to prevent revolution. Many criticisms of the Tsar were muted due to the right wing majority in the 3rd/4th Dumas. Stolypin cooperated with this Duma allowing him to persue his land reforms without opposition. Claimed Stolypin rigged the election. Effective work in Social reform was done. 

The Fourth Duma (Nov1912-August1914)

Bolsheviks claimed that the Dumas were 'rubber stamps of gov policy'. Dominated by right wing parties. Dissolved in August when Russia entered the First World War. 

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Lena Goldfields Massacre 1912

-In Siberia there were demands from miners for better pay and conditions. This was resisted by employers who appealed to the police to arrest the strike leaders as criminals.

-When the police moved into Lena, the strikers closed ranks and the situation rapidly worsened, resulting in troops firing on and killing large numbers of miners. 

-This massacre represented the larger uproar within Russia at the time and the discomfort of workers. 

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Lessons of the 1905 Revolution

As long as the tsarist government's army stayed loyal, the forces of protest would find it difficult to mount this challenge. Claimed by Trotsky that the 1905 revolution had failed because the protestors were disunited and inexperienced. Liberals had backed out of the revolution and betrayed the government workers by leaving them to be crushed by troops. 

Economic Policies of Witte and Stolypin were important advances, but not enough to alter the reactionary character of the Tsarist system. 

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