Russia In Revolution: Theme One Summary

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  • Created on: 20-01-19 13:29

Reaction to the assassination of Alexander II

STATUTE OF STATE SECURITY 1881: Anyone who went against the state or was suspected of doing so, would bypass normal laws. Those in legal professions with liberal sympathies removed from office: Okhrana become more powerful and censorship was tightened.

UNIVERSITY OF STATUTE 1887: Stricter Govt Control

ZEMSTVA ACT 1890: Local councils weakened, gov officials could meddle with decision making.

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What employment challenges was Russia dealing with

  • Peasants elected local officials (From the Mir - local government) who administered common lands, supervised tax collection, made provisions for the elderly, sick, orphans and provided education. 
  • Urban factory workers were paid low wages and sometimes irregular wages and they had to work long hours in factories.
  • Some nobles (less important than landowners) worked for the Government and were dependant on a salary. They did tasks such as collecting taxes and controlling officers in the army. 
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What religion/nationality challenges was Russia de

  • In Russia, 50% of the people were not ethnic Russians. 20-25 million Russians were Muslim and 5 million were Jews.
  • In the late nineteenth century, Jews were confined to the 15 provinces of the Pale, were not allowed to own or work the land and were subject to anti-Jewish riots from 1881 onwards.
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What economic challenges was Russia dealing with b

  • 1850 - Russia covered 1/6 of the earth's land area
  • Progress in modernising Russia, leading to an industrial spurt with an oil industry in Baku, Coal, iron and Steel in eastern Ukraine, textiles and engineering developments n Moscow and St Petersburg. Total industrial output doubled in Nicholas II first ten years in office. Strikes grew as workers became unhappy with living and working conditions.
  • By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Russia was a world leader in the production of iron
  • The % of urban workers In Russia rose from 6% of the population in 1861 to 15% by 1896. Towns rapidly expanding.
  • There were gold, silver, copper and coal mines in Siberia and growing iron industry in the Urals. 
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Oppression of Nationalities

Russification: an attempt to impose Russias language, culture and religion on the empires,  non-russian minorities. Implemented in areas where nationalism was strong, e.g Northwest Borderlands

The Orthodox Church: Given Government money to support its efforts to convert non-russians to orthodoxy. Churches with deep roots in non-Russian areas bullied and harassed. No new Protestant churches to be built without Government permission. 1903: Armenia:  a decree confiscating the property of Arminian church. (leads to demonstrations, open fire on a crowd at Gandzak, 10 dead, 70 wounded) 


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What social challenges was Russia dealing with by

  • 1894 - 80% of Russians were illiterate
  • Many people who were members of the intelligentsia (the educated middle class - teachers, doctors, experts) increasingly critical of the Tsar during the nineteenth century. They did not like the lack of freedom of speech and of the press. Some of them joined revolutionary groups and plotted to overthrow the Tsar.
  • Peasants saw children as an economic asset as they could form part of the workforce and large families were often given more land. The population was rapidly growing, from 45.6million in 1800 to 125 million by 1900.
  • In 1840, the ratio of villagers to townspeople was 11-1 in Russia whereas in England it was 2-1 and in France 5-1.
  • Peasant infant mortality was high in the nineteenth century with 50% of children dying before age 5. Peasants who lived over 5 years old could expect to live until they were about 40 (low life expectancy) 
  • Peasants were given strips of land by the Mir and rotated areas they were farming regularly. As the population increased, fertile land was becoming scarce, Discontent was growing in the countryside. 
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Nicholas II Characteristics: Poor Leader, or Unedu

  • Unprofessional: Father paid for him to go abroad and study, instead wrote a diary on different foods.
  • Childish
  • Untrained: ^^^
  • Easily distracted
  • Lack of enthusiasm. 
  • No political intelligence. 
  • Poor communication
  • Stubborn
  • No Respect for others. 
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Sergei Witte and the Economy.

  • Nicholas was jealous of Kaiser Wilhelm and Queen Victoria because of: Industrial Revoltion: Industrial countries are more likely to succeed in war.

Sergei Witte:

  • Conservative: So reform is not for the people, to ensure political succession. 
  • Didn't believe in industrialisation to benefit the people.
  • Essential for political and strategic reasons
  • Industrialisation was key to military power
  • Create a base to produce quality armaments and improvements to the transport system to enable troops to move around the country more efficiently.
  • Will use industrialisation to increase support for Tsarist regime:
  • Increased wealth decreases taxes on peasants
  • Creation of Capitalist class with a vested interest in Tsarism 
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Successes and Problems with Witte's Economy:


  • Serfs controlled less.
  • Ownership of homes.
  • Serfdom not an obstacle to economic development?


  • No complete freedom
  • Redemption Payments
  • Subject to control by village communes
  • Substience agriculture
  • Surplus not being produced.
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The Social Hierachy




The people: tenant farmers, craftsmen, labourers and paupers...

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Repression under Nicholas II


  • Tsarisms political police force
  • Infiltrate and destroy revolutionary and terrorist networks
  • Fearsome reputation
  • 1900, only 2,500 members


  • Newspapers
  • Politicians
  • Halt the spread of subversive ideas


  • 5 Million Jews 
  • All (except Jewish Uni Grads) were compelled by law to live in a Pale of Settlement.
  • Harsh discrimination Policies.
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Repression under Nicholas II (2)


  • Basic use of Russian language in court hearings and schools
  • Convert non-Russians to Orthodoxy
  • Nationalism


  • Russian Language in school lessons became compulsory even though it was not the native language of most people in schools 


  • No constitution 
  • No parliament
  • No legal safeguards protecting individual rights
  • Governed by ministers who were appointed and accountable to the Tsar
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Cause of the Russo-Japanese War:

  • Russia wants to increase their empire, strategic expansion in China

Manchuria, Port Arthur

    • Mineral Wealth 
  • Japan also wanted the same area
  • Nicholas II and his advisors viewed Japan as racially inferior. 
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Reasons for defeat...

  • Broken off diplomatic relations
    • Nobody expected war
  • "Yellow fog of ignorance"
  • Destruction of the Baltic fleet
    • Commander killed
  • Russia was underprepared, overconfident
  • Problems with coaling
    • Poor quality
  • Japanese were better at fighting on the home grounds
    • Radio Communications
    • Technological Advancements
      • Enhancing firepower
  • "The cancer of imperialism" 
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Impact at home

  • Humiliation.
  • Exposed fatal weaknesses in the Russian autocratic system
  • Russia remained economically weak
    • Domestic problems
  • Anglo-Saxon press was quick to support ***anese
  • Music hall songs were written (humiliating)
    • Little *** Horner or the Bear and the Chinaware
  • Liberals angered by mishandling of war, hostility increased.
    • Radical liberals: "the worse the better"
  • Regime, wounded and vulnerable
    • League of Liberation Banquet campaign
  • Unemployment and food prices grow
    • Deepend working-class discontent
  • Intensifies opposition, fuels it further. 
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The 1905 Revolution:

REVOLUTION: A complete change of government, e.g from autocracy - republic.

some historians do not consider the 1905 a real revolution as Tsar was still in power.

War was a factor, news of Japanese victory hit Russia the same time as an economic slump, leads to food shortages, etc.


  • Led by Father Gapon, a son of a wealthy farmer, became a priest.
  • A secret member of Okhrana.
  • Assembly of Russian Factory and Mill Workers to get rid of revolutionaries, secretly supported by Okhrana.
  • Organise march towards Winter Palace, wrote a petition...
  • Army massacres men, women and children, 200 killed, 800 wounded.
  • Damage, Nicholas' reputation as guardian of Russia 
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Tsars Concessions.


1) Newly elected assembly called the Duma

2) Advisory or consultative, no real power.

3) Complex electoral system, favour peasants.


1) Guaranteed basic freedoms

2) Duma with real power

3) Extension of right to vote.

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The St Petersburg Soviet

  • Established as a response to August Manifesto
  • General strikes between September and October 
  • 2.7 Million workers on strike by end of 1905.
  • Elect a committee of approx 500 delegates, representing 200,000 workers, 147 factories. 
  • Majority elected, support the Mensheviks
  • Coordinate strikes took over aspects of running the city.
  • Start Political campaigns. 
  • Shut down quickly by Okhrana


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Opposition Groups: Peasants

Cause of Opposition:

Poverty and desperation, poor soil so the growing season was short, methods of production, Government policies were t blame for worsening conditions in the countryside.

Key events and developments:

New farming methods introduced, crop rotation, periodic reallocation of strips, no households, no strong incentive, villages are self-governed, village affairs were responsible for village commune or mir.

How radical?

No violence, pacifist, nobody was damaged during the self-government of villages, bought order to villages and farmers. 

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Opposition Groups: Workers

Causes of Opposition:

Strikes, brutal affairs, army called out to deal with their strikes, result of grim living and working conditions, low pay, long hours.

Key events and developments:

Workers overcrowded in slums, which were breeding grounds for disease like cholera and typhus. Army called out almost 300 times in 1901 due to strikes. 

How Radical?

Strikes were making a point, but nobody else was harmed. Army being called suggests things got out of hand.

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Opposition Groups: Middle Class and The League of

Causes of Opposition

Intelligencia, educated middle class, strong liberals, industrialists, businessmen, represent the urban middle class, non-violent. 1904 programme, democracy, private enterprise, retribution of land to peasants. 

Key events and developments:

1891-92 famine in southern Russia, zemstvo relief efforts increased confidence in bodies called for a voice in national affairs, liberation movement, liberation newspaper 1902, 1904 secret meeting, league of liberation, 1904, banquet campaign, encourage support.

How Radical?

No violence, pacifist ideals, no violence used at all, peaceful protests were shut down with violence. 

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Opposition Groups: Social Revolutionaries

Causes of Opposition:

Founders were Chernov, aimed to form a political alliance with the peasantry in order to overthrow tsarism and build a new democratic order in Russia. The idea of a distinctly Russian and largely peasant-based form of socialism, aim to win peasant support. Want decentralisation of power, anarchism, improve urban living, working conditions. 

Key Events and developments:

Divisions with SRS ranks on combat organisations, assassination campaign, split from SRs and established a popular socialist party. 1908, SRS was rocketed by scandals, head of combat organisation, Yenvo Azef unmasked as Okhrana spy use violence. Split into violent and non violent SR 

How Radical?

Won't be a bloodless revolution, willing to use violence, the assassination of Government ministers, dynamite and firearms. Prepared to use violence. 

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Opposition Groups: Social Democrats

Causes of Opposition/Beliefs:

Marxism: class is the main problem and cause of oppression. Marx believes to overthrow Tsar is to unite workers and break class system. Once Tsar is overthrown, temporary Govt, soon no GOvt, everything becomes equal. 

Key Events and Developments:

Formation of the RSDLP: 1998. Formation of the Spark (own newspaper) 1900's. 1895: Struggle for liberation of the working class. 1903: Split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

How Radical?

Developing towards extremist, but no actual violence yet.

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Opposition Groups: Bolsheviks

Reasons for Opposition/Beliefs:

Take Marxist ideas and make their own, run by Lenin, had a realist prospect of Proletariat revolution, too weak, too poorly educated to make their own revolution, so RSDLP should be a small group of people. Limited membership. Should force the revolution violently. 

Key events and development: 

Split from Social Democrats to Bolsheviks.

How Radical?

Plans for a revolution, yet too uneducated, leading to the RSDLP becoming smaller, more efficient.

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Opposition Groups: Mensheviks

Reasons for Opposition/Beliefs.

Mass party to educate and organise the working class revolution, which is a long way off, should be allowed to happen naturally. RSDLP had to concentrate on making itself ready to seize the revolution at any moment. Run by Martov. 

Key events/developments.

Open to the idea of cooperating with Non-Marxists. 

How Radical?

Organise and prepare for a proletariat revolution, could have been violent or fatal, Also considered the cooperation with other oppositions, would have proved beneficial. 

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How did the Tsar survive 1905?

  • 1905 revolution lacked a clear leader, clear set of aims.
  • The army was mainly loyal to the Tsar ( apart from Potemkin in the Black Sea Fleet)
  • Strikes and uprisings were spontaneous and uncoordinated. 
  • Any uprisings were swiftly crushed. (St Petersburg Soviet: 250 Delegated arrested, Bolshevik Uprising In Moscow: Crushed, 500 killed) 
  • All different revolution groups had different aims: Liberalism wanted constitutional reforms, e.g democratic elections. Constitutional Democrats: KADETS, radical liberals who rejected October Manifesto for not going far enough) and Octobrists: Welcome reform and the October Manifesto for its balance between monarchy and democracy. 
  • Okhrana stayed loyal, still eliminating opposition groups through infiltration, spying, censorship...
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Tsardom Survived because of Repression...

  • Police and Army using extreme violence to end strikes on 800 occasions between 1900 and 1902, killed unarmed demonstrators who were seen to be radical, student protest in 1901 killing 13 students.
  • Thousands faced trial without Jury, exiled to Siberia, courts existed till end of Tsars reign despite supposed to be temporary.
  • Press freedom restricted, 14 newspapers banned for displaying liberal ideas.
  • 1889 - Land Captains replace Zemstvas. (Rich aristocrats replacing local bodies)
  • Opposition parties were illegal.
  • Repression cut off leaders from followers.
  • Tsar's regime underpinned by the loyalty of aristocrat, church and the army.
  • Ukase, December 1904: Stating GOVT would respect individual rights. (ONLY ISSUED TO SPLIT GROUPS, MAINLY LIBERALS.)
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