Nicholas II arguably had the most turbulent rule of all the Tsars, with both the 1905 and 1917 revolution, both of which he had to relinquish power and attempt to appease the gargantuan amount of opposition. This ultimately resulted in the loss of the Romanov dynasty and a self-appointed government.
Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905
-At the Battle of Yalu, Russia was severely outnumbered; the siege of Port Arthur isolated 60,000 troops which led to their surrender.
-Disastrous for Russia, acted as a stimulus for further unrest within Russia.
-Highlighted the lack of skill of the leaders, and that the military needed serious reforms.
-Russia had high expectations when entering the war, but lost millions of men particularly in Tannenburg and Masurian lake.
-By 1914 Russia had achieved financial stability 98% notes back by gold, but total cost of the war was 3 billion roubles which led to economic collapse.
-In 1915 Nicholas took control of the army.
-Prices increased by 400%, high inflation and food shortages as a result.
-In Turkestan, rebellion broke out in response to the government’s attempt to maximise conscription.
-The events of the war, and civil unrest led to such instability that the Progressive Bloc (which later became the Provisional Government) forced Nicholas to abdicate.
Stolypin’s Land Reforms
-In 1906, Stolypin appointed by Nicholas attempted to introduce land reforms, abolishing the previous method of ‘strip farming’ to collectivised land.
-Also encouraged a large scale voluntary resettlement to exploit the ‘Virgin Lands’.
-It affected 7b million households allowed each man to turn his share of communal land into private land, by 1915 50% were still under communal tenure.
-Thus although Nicholas tried to promote agricultural reform it lacked incentive for the peasantry the lack of results meant that Stolypin’s reforms were then abolished. Stolypin argued their effectiveness would only be evident after 5 years, which Nicholas did not allow.
Witte’s Great Spurt
-Average growth rate of 8% per annum, Russia became the fourth largest industrial economy.
-Foreign investment from 98million roubles to 911million roubles, gold currency.
-Up until 1914 it was a 10hr working day, with 6 per room in a house.
-Still opted for a ‘command economy’ just 1.88% worked in industry.