Russian Revolutions 1905/1917

June 04, 2020

Sergei Witte persuaded the Tsar to issue the October Manifesto. THIS PROMISED that an elected assembly would be established and the Russian people would have greater rights.

FOR EXAMPLE

The right to form political parties, have freedom of speech and hold meetings as they liked.

AS A RESULT

The St. Petersburg Soviet called off the strike and strikers all over Russia went back to work AND by making concessions to the Liberals, the Tsar was able to deal with the Revolutionaries in a harsher manner (which was Witte’s clever idea!)

HOWEVER

The Fundamental Laws, issued in May 1906, were created so the power of the Duma was undermined

THE FUNDAMENTAL LAWS STATED

The Tsar had total control over the Duma. He alone could make laws and could dissolve the Duma, or change the laws by which it was elected, at any time.

AS A RESULT

The Duma cooperated.

FOR EXAMPLE

The first Duma met in May 1906. It was dominated by the liberals but there were 200 peasant representatives. It lasted 2 months. The Tsar sent the army to dissolve it because it demanded land reform, an end to the Tsar’s emergency powers (including the death penalty), and the right to appoint ministers.

The second Duma was elected in 1907. This time revolutionaries stood for election, so the Tsar was even less impressed! It lasted 5 months. Nicholas dissolved it when it criticised his handling of the army.

Nicholas then changed the voting system to ensure that the third Duma was less critical of his government. The richest 1% of Russians elected 2/3 of the representatives. Unsurprisingly, this Duma lasted the full 5 years!

The fourth Duma, elected in 1912, also obeyed the Tsar.

AS A RESULT

In 1906 the Social Revolutionaries, annoyed that the Duma was cooperating, began a campaign of terror to de-stabilise the Tsar’s government.

THIS MEANT THAT

The Tsar was nervous SO he dismissed Witte, (who he blamed for making him sign the October Manifesto) and appointed Stolypin as Chief Minister.

STOLYPIN’S APPROACH COULD BE DESCRIBED AS

Carrot and Stick.

FOR EXAMPLE

Peasants were encouraged to take loans from the Peasant Bank to purchase lands. AS A RESULT, by 1914 over two million peasants owned their land.

BUT

Only the wealthier peasants (Kulaks) could afford to buy enough land to support their families, so resentment continued amongst many peasants. Also, farming continued to be inefficient, producing fewer crops per acre than western European countries like Britain.

NEVERTHELESS

Stolypin’s industrial measures did double production of coal, iron, steel and cotton between 1900 and 1914, although the Russian economy remained weaker than other European nations.

THE COUNTER-BALANCE TO REFORM WAS REPRESSION. FOR EXAMPLE

The Okrana were given free rein to crush opposition. ‘Field Court for Civilians’ were established, to provide rapid trials for those who were ‘obviously guilty’. Those convicted had no right of appeal and were exiled or executed. By 1906 over a thousand alleged terrorists had been tried and executed and 20,000 sent to Siberia. By 1907 nearly all revolutionary leaders were in prison or in exile.

AS A RESULT

The hangman’s noose was nicknamed ‘Stolypin’s necktie’.

ANOTHER WAY THE TSAR DEALT WITH THE 1905 REVOLUTION WAS

Signing the Treaty of Portsmouth with Japan in September.

THIS HELPED THE TSAR BECAUSE

Returning soldiers could be used to crush opposition. FOR EXAMPLE, when the Moscow Soviet organised an uprising at the end of 1905, in protest at the Tsar’s punishment and exile of his former opponents, the army crushed it ruthlessly

THE TSAR WAS ALSO HELPED BY

The Black Hundreds. These were armed gangs of the Tsar’s supporters who carried out reprisals against his opponents

FOR EXAMPLE

Peasants involved in burning landlords’ farms were hanged and the Tsar’s authority was restored in non-Russian parts of the Empire.

IN CONCLUSION

The Tsar continued to crush critics brutally.

BUT

There was promise of reform; the Dumas gave the Russian people confidence that, with time, a greater openness in government would increase people’s rights.

THE END

How far was Tsar Nicholas responsible for his own downfall? Explain your answer.

We are planning to teach the content in the “factors”. Therefore, we are starting off by looking at long term problems in Russia: its size; the diversity of languages; the economy; varied ethnicity. We will then look at the Tsar himself and how he could be blamed: his personality; his failure to learn the lessons of 1905; his weakness and indecision; his poor choice of ministers; his tolerance of Rasputin; his failure to work with the Dumas; his decision to go to the front in 1915 and leave the Tsarina in charge. We will also go on to look at factors such as the rise of opposition groups and the impact of WWI

The February Revolution of 1917 brought the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty to an end. What caused the uprising?

Why did the monarchy collapse?

In 1917, the Russian monarchy collapsed.

There are three main theories as to why:

Russia was old-fashioned and weak - it collapsed because it was unsuitable.

The First World War - its huge problems and disasters overturned a monarchy that had, so far, managed to survive.

The stupidity of the tsar - his decisions and actions cost him his throne.

Writing for an academic website, the historian Philip Mosley suggested:

The immediate cause of the February Revolution of 1917 was the collapse of the Tsarist regime under the gigantic strain of World War I. The underlying cause was the backward economic condition of the country, which made it unable to sustain the war effort against powerful, industrialized Germany.

Philip E Mosley, late Professor of International Relations, Columbia University

Notice how he doesn't choose one of the three factors as being the cause of the Revolution. Instead, he suggests that the revolution was caused by a mixture of all three factors working together - the underlying weaknesses of the government meant that, when he was faced by problems during the First World War, the tsar could not cope with them and fell from power. You may wish to take this as your overview conclusion of the causes of the February Revolution of 1917 in Russia.




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