Autocracy to Dictatorship in Russia - 1881 to 1953
Imperial Russia in 1881
o 126 million population.
o 1.6% of population are based in cities.
o Semi-feudal system.
o 77% of the population is peasantry – “dark masses”.
o 0.5% of population are merchants.
o 90% of land is not farmed.
o Over 100 languages spoken.
o Oppressive army – people sentenced to long service.
Dates in charge
“Tsar Liberator”. Emancipated serfdom – 1861.
Reactionary, against reform. Stopped the push for constitutional reform that Alexander II wanted.
May Laws (1881) – halted reform, Okrhanna used more, progroms, censorship tightened.
Reaction and revolution. Brought in constitutional reform in 1905 – in the form of the Dumas. Fundamental Laws of 1906 undermined them and created the ideology of “preserve Tsardom at all costs.
Role of Tsardom
o Romanov dynasty had run for 300 years.
o “Divinely appointed” by God.
o Church declared a curse, twice a year, on those who said the Tsar wasn’t divinely appointed.
o Tsar had absolute power over the church.
Tsar as Head of State:
o “Autocratic and unlimited monarchy”.
o 50 provinces each separated into 20 districts.
o The zemstvas ran in the country, council role for the nobility.
o 1905 - Dumas came to the cities.
o Local Government Act (1890/92) changed election procedure to give lower classes less influence in the Zemstva and Dumas.
Russian Economy 1881-1917
o Sergei Witte.
o Great Spurt: 1893 – 1900.
o Focus on heavy industry.
o Figures, 1890 to 1900 (million tonnes):
o Coal up 200% (5.9 to 16.1).
o Pig Iron up 200% (0.9 to 2.7).
o Oil up 150% (4 to 11).
o Grain up 60% (36 to 56).
o The economy by 1914:
o Industry grew 7% a year from 1907 to 1914.
o 2nd highest in the world for oil.
o 4th highest in the world for everything else.
o Investment in agricultural machinery.
o Trans-Siberian railway.
o Amount of railway track: 19,500 miles in 1891. 44,000 miles in 1913.
Major Influences on the Tsarist regime
o Adopted the Gold Standard – this encouraged foreign investment and stabilised the value of the ruble.
o Took on foreign loans, to be paid back with interest.
o Increased direct and indirect taxation.
o High tariffs on foreign goods.
o Wages kept low.
o Attempted to create capitalist culture.
o Neglected light industry.
o Invested in education, railways and alcohol capitalism.
o Advisor to the 3 Tsars.
o Head supervisor of the Russian Orthodox Church.
o Enemy of progress.
o Complete conservative.
o Anti-Semitic, ideas behind the Jewish progroms (1881 onwards).