Problems facing Nicholas II

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  • Created by: iamme
  • Created on: 03-06-16 15:18

Autocracy and Revolt in Russia, 1881 - 1914 
Problems facing Nicholas II, 1894 - 1905

Weakness of Nicholas II as Tsar. 

  • Viewed as ‘soft’ by his father
  • Inherited throne suddenly – father died of kidney disease aged 49 (underprepared) 
  • Strongly conservative – closest adviser & mentor, Constantin Pobedonostsev; inherited Romanov belief in divine appointment & moral rightness of autocracy

Witte and Industrial Growth. (1892 - 1903)   SUCCESSES ; 

  • Work was sponsored, overseen by Government, nicknamed "Witte System"
  • Government placed emphasis on production of capital goods (iron, steel, coal, machinery)
  • Much of the expansion was financed from loans abroad (France)
  • Overseas loans and investments aided industrial growth.
  • Raised tariffs, tax, interest rates to increase capital.
  • Limit on imported goods, encourage Russians to use Russian products. (also helps money circulate in the country)
  • Expansion of the Trans-Siberian Railway system (1902)
  • Rapid expansion of cities, as large scale manufacture attracted people seeking employment.
    St. Petersburg's population increased from 1 to 2 million in 1914.


  • Industrial expansion was a global phenomenon at that time, it wasn't just work of Witte.
  • Too dependent on foreign investments. 
  • Lighter type of industry underinvested and agriculture ignored.
  • Overcrowding in cities, led to poor living conditions and growth in dissent as a result.
  • Poor working conditions because trade unions was made illegal.
  • Still lagged behind other industrial powers.
    Austria-Hungary expanded national income by 79%, Britain by 70% and Russia with only 50%.

   Problems faced by Nicholas II including discontent of the peasants, town works and subject nationalities (ethnic minorities)

  • Growth of the Urban Proletariat.
    • 1900 - only 2-3 million industrial workers out of 110 million Russians.
      These workers were confined in 4 main areas.
    • Factories were poorly lit & badly ventilated, had long working hours & brutal discipline. There was no job security.
    • Living conditions were appalling - workers lived in unsanitary dormitories or rented rooms.
    • In 1911, typhus, smallpox, typhoid & cholera were serious problems for industrial workers.
    • All of these experiences created a militant working class.
    • From the 1880s there was an increasing number of industrial strikes.
      • 68 strikes in 1895.
      • 125 strikes in 1900.
      • 14, 000 strikes in 1905.
    • There was a trickle of social legislation but it was often ignored :
      • 1892 : No children under 12 to be employed.
      • 1892 : No female labour allowed in mines.
      • 1896 : 11 1/2 working day introduced.
      • Overpopulation
        • Factory investments and resettlement of farmers into towns built around factories as a way to improve economy. 
        • Russian towns were not ready socially and politically for the sudden economic growth.


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