OCR B History revision notes- RUSSIA 1905-1935

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  • Created by: Anisab
  • Created on: 29-05-16 18:07

Why was Russia so difficult to govern?

  • The empire was huge, and communications were poor
  • 150 million people, 172 ethnic groups to govern with different languages
  • People hated being ruled by Tsar, and called it "the prison of nations"
  • Old fashioned and "backwards" - in 1914 in still used the Roman calendar when most other nations used the Gregorian Calendar, so it was out of sync 
  • In most of Russia there was no modern transport system, and most roads were primitive mud tracks
  • Railway track did not come close to satisfying transport needs
  • MASSIVE gap between the rich and the poor. 4/5 of people were penniless peasants
  • Economy was technologically backwards and mainly based on subsistence farming and despite this the countryside was regularly swept by famine
  • After 1900 there were signs of industrialisation - but the early years were very problematic, as large numbers of peasants migrated into Russia's new towns only to find poverty, overcrowding, pollution and poor working conditions in factories

The Government of Tsar Nicholas II


  • It was the belief that he had the divine right to rule - that he had been "chosen" by God
  • He and his wife were totally committed to Russia, loved the country and served it loyally
  • He was a kind, loving family man
  • He had a quick mind and learnt easily


  • Nicholas II was an autocrat - he made the rules, there was no government
  • His rule was enforced at a local level by councils called zemstvos
  • He used his Okrahna to keep the people under control
  • The Orthodox Church was closely linked to the Tsar and supported his way of ruling - many of the peasants and workers were taught to see the Tsar as their "little father"
  • As a ruler, he was quite weak, out of touch, foolish and indecisive - generally quite unsuited for the job as he didn't know enough about his country
  • Media was censored, as opposition to the Tsar was not tolerated
  • Nicholas was very anti semetic, and encouraged violence against Jews

Opposition - Socialist Revolutionaries


  • Get rid of the Tsar and his government
  • Give all land to peasants for farming in communes and form thousands of peasant communities

Supported by: Peasants


  • Propaganda encouraging revolution
  • Violent terroist acts intended to collapse the government
  • Killed seven important governmet officials

Opposition - Social Democrats (Mensheviks)


  • Overthrow the Tsar and create a Socialist State

Supported by: Workers in cities and large towns, and students

1903 - Party split over tactic they thought would bring about revolution.


  • Party should be mass organisation which everyone could join
  • Mass party would grow until it eventually took power
  • Would work with other groups like trade unions to improve wages and working conditions

Opposition - Social Democrats (Bolsheviks)


  • Party should be a small, secret, tightly disciplined group of professional revolutionaries who would seize power when the time was right
  • Large parties could be infiltrated by spies - instead, revolutionary cells of 3-4 people organised strikes and demonstrations


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