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Decline and fall of the Romanov dynasty Essays

Topic 1- Decline and fall of the Romanov dynasty
Syllabus outline
Nicholas II as autocrat
Political, social and economic grievances in early 20th century Russia The tsar’s failure to address the problems of Russia
The role of WWI in the fall of the tsarist regime
Focus questions
How stable was the social basis of tsarist rule?
Why was the government unable to meet the challenges emerging in the first decade and a half century? How important were the Bolsheviks before 1917?
What effect did WWI have on the tsarist government?
The paradox
The last years of imperial Russia were characterized by a paradox. Externally, Russia appeared very strong. There had been substantial growth economically and her military force was large. But internally, she was weak, with an inflexible political structure and a society undergoing massive change Timeline
1868- Nicholas Romanov is born
1894- Nicholas marries Alix (Alexandra) of Hesse Darmastadt and becomes tsar. 1895-1904- the royal children are born
1905- A year of riots and disturbances leads to the ‘October Manifesto’, a concession which helps to stop the unrest by promising a constitution 1906- The first Russian duma meets but is dissolved after ten weeks because it questions the tsar’s power 1914- The First World War breaks out, temporarily uniting the country behind Nicholas 1915- Nicholas becomes army commander-in-chief, thus identifying himself with Russia’s military failures in war 1916- Rasputin, whose influences over Alexandra attracts criticism, is murdered 1917- Nicholas II abdicates in the face of revolution. Russia becomes a republic 1918- Nicholas, Alexandra and children are executed at Ekaterinberg
The Russian empire in1900- Land and climate
Russia is very big. It could fit the British isle 90 times over Mountains in the south keep warm air from spreading and leaves Russia open to cold air
from the Arctic Ocean. In the Arctic Circle, the land is ‘tundra’, where only moss and small shrubs grow. For over 1000km, south off the ‘tundra’ stretches ‘taiga’, cold land covered in forests of pine trees Only region in south west can be used for farming (5% of Russia’s land) Coastline in Arctic Circle was frozen in winter along with the rivers of Siberia- the Ob, the Yenisey and the Lena- this restricting trade.
Map of 1900 Russia
Advantages for being a large country
Larger population can have larger defence
Difficult to conquer
Space for expansion of urban environment
More change for access to natural resources
Larger population should strengthen economy
Mountains act as barrier for defence
Disadvantages for being a large country
Transport would be difficult
95% of land is unsuitable for agriculture
different languages and customs make it hard to develop national identity → difficult to unite and therefore rule Cold climate = frozen land
Difficult to govern due to size and spread of population
Very large borders to protect
Population
Population = 125 million
Less than half were Russian
Majority were poles and Ukrainians that had been conquered by the ancestors of tsar Nicholas ii There people had their own language, customs and way of life For 60% of the population, Russian was a foreign language
Most people lived on 5% of the country used for farming and cities Review questions
1. What was the age of Nicholas Romanov when he died?
2. When was Alexei born?
3. How did Rasputin die? What happened to him in 1916?
4. What major event occurred in Russia 1917?
5. At what age did Nicholas become tsar?
6. What was the tsar’s third daughter called?
7. How long did the first Russian duma last?
8. Where was the royal family executed?
9. When did Nicholas become army commander-in-chief?
10. How old was Anastasia when she was executed?
Russian royal family
House of Romanov
Second and last imperial dynasty of Russia, 1613-1917
The last 5 Tsars
Alexander I (Ruled 1801-1825)
Grandson of Catherine the great
Inherited throne after father, Paul I, was murdered
Ruled Russia during the Napoleonic wars
Expanded Russian empire with Finland and part of Poland
Initially introduced reforms but later took these back
Died of typhus
Nicholas I (ruled 1825-1855)
Younger brother of Alexander I
Decembrist revolt (1825)
Attempted coup (other throw of established power) after Nicholas older brother Constantine declined the throne (after Alexander I died) Nicholas
I’s reaction set the firm rule of Russia (having sent all involved in revolt to the gallows) Highly reactionary (against change)
Principles of ‘Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality’
Feared nobles reaction to potential reforms such as abolishing serfdom (slavery) Discussion of rebellion is made illegal
Alexander II (ruled 1855-1881)
Crimean war (1853-1856)
Loss of war prompted military modernization; universal military conscription Reforms
Allowed for early form of corporations (LLC’s)
1861- emancipated the serfs
Police force
Local self government (zemstvo)
Had finished plans for a duma (parliament) the day before assassination Assassination
Attempts in 1866, 1879, 1880
1881- bomb set by members of Narodnaya Volya (peoples will) a nihilist group Reforms of Alexander II
1861 → emancipated the serfs
Judicial system → better trained, independent judges, trial by jury, justices of the peace Started to modernize the army
New form of local government
Reformed education →primary and secondary schools opened to wider section of public and more independence to universities from the church. Significance of Tsar Alexander II assassination
Tsarist regime hardened stance towards opposition; Alexander III determined to crush revolutionaries Social and political reforms were halted
Success of assassination made the regime appear vulnerable and it provided new martyrs for revolutionary cause The police were strengthened →new methods and large numbers of arrests against those who criticised the government Some revolutionaries learnt that they had to be harder and tougher and more disciplined to avoid imprisonment.
Alexander III (ruled 1881-1894)
Along with his son, the future Nicholas II, he witnessed Alexander II’s assassination Anti-Semitism- blamed Jews for his father’s assassination
May laws (1882)→ harsh restrictions on all Jews
Led to Jewish immigration to the US and elsewhere
Return to principles of ‘Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality’ Put local control in the hands of appointed offices
Secret police
Strict censorship
Political prisoners exiled to Siberia
Died of kidney disease at the age of 49
Develops trans Siberia railway
The autocracy
Nicholas II, the emperor of Russia, was an autocrat, a monarch who does not share power Appointed by God to lead and guide the people
Article I of the fundamental laws 1832, ‘the emperor of all Russia is an autocrat and unlimited monarch. God himself ordains that all must bow before his supreme power, not only out of fear but also out of conscience’. Civil service
Civil servants were divided into 14 ranks, the ‘table of ranks’/ Minor officials were at the bottom (e.g. post office clerks and custom inspectors) Many took bribes as they were underpaid
Okhrana
‘protective section’ or secret police
Censored all books and newspapers
Spied on political groups and arrested people who criticised the government Political parties were illegal till 1905
Cossacks
Fierce mounted soldiers armed with sabres who specialised in breaking up riots/mobs by butchering anyone not able to run away fast enough Helped tsar quell riots in hard times
Russian Orthodox Church
Helped maintain the tsars authority by teaching people to respect the autocracy and be loyal to the Tsar Head of the church was a government minister. Bishops took orders from him and priests from the bishops The army
Largest in Europe and essential to the tsarist regime
Officials were often from noble backgrounds
Ordinary soldiers were subservient to officers and had few rights- not allowed in 1st or 2nd class rail carriages or in restaurants/cafes. Pay was extremely poor and most grew own food- living on bread, soup and tea Morale was low as it was used to suppress the peasants
Three principles underpinning tsarist rule
1. Autocracy → could rule without constraints according to own idea of duty and what was right. Rejected any hint that power rested on the consent of the people 2. nationality→ strong beliefs that Russians had a distinctive way of life, values, beliefs and customs were superior and should dominate 3. Orthodoxy→ church supported the divine right of the tsar and exhorted believers to obey the tsar as an agent of god Social structure of Russia 1900
Nobility- 1%, owned 35$ of all land. Some had important jobs in government or in the army but were often there more on their position on society Middle class- 0.5%, though small in number, there was a growing class of merchants, bankers and industrialists as industry and commerce developed. The professional class (doctors, teachers, lawyers) was growing and beginning to play a significant role in local government, lawyers particularly in politics Urban workers- 10.7%, most young males. Literacy among them was 57.8%, twice national average. Were particularly receptive to revolutionary ideas. Low wages and poor working conditions Peasants- 77%, poor, illiterate and uneducated. Widespread epidemics of typhus and diphtheria. Many lived in debt and squalor. Most got by in good farming years but in years with poor harvest, widespread starvation e.g. 1891, 400 000 died. Industrialisation
Russia embarked on industrial development in order to strengthen its defences It was begun in 1861 but was accelerated by the efforts of Sergei Witte Main impetus was from government policy. It had 4 main components: 1. High tariff walls → provide protection for Russian industry against cheaper competition from abroad 2. Increased grain export→ provide capital for investment and to guarantee foreign load 3. Foreign loans as a source of investment capital
4. Railway construction to improve economic infrastructure and stimulate heavy industry which produced requirements for railway expansion. Industrial production increased; however agricultural output barely kept ahead of population growth Social effects:
1. Low living standards
2. Increased taxes and through tariffs, increased prices
3. Increased grain exports leads to decreased peasant consumption and famine in some regions in 1890s. 4. Population shifts to towns for employment
Political opposition
The liberals
Main beliefs- civil rights and freedom of the individual, the rule of law, free elections, parliamentary democracy and limitation of the tsar’s powers and self determination for the national minorities. Some believed the concept of the zemstvo should be extended to regional and perhaps national level. Methods- reform rather than violent action, political channels through Zemstva, articles in newspaper, meetings and reform banquets Support- their main support came from the middle class intelligentsia and from progressive landowners, industrialists and businessmen. Social democrats
Formed in 1898 by Marxist. At the second party congress in 1903, the party split into two factions: Bolsheviks
Leader Vladimir Lenin believed that:
Party should be made up of a small number of highly disciplined professional revolutionaries Operate under centralised leadership
Have a system of small cells so that it would be more difficult for police to infiltrate It was the job of the party to bring socialist consciousness to the workers and lead them through the revolution. Critics warned that a centralised party like this would lead to dictatorship. Mensheviks
They believed a party should:
Be broadly based and take in all those who wished to join
Be more democratic, allowing its members to have a say in policy making
Encourage trade unions to help working class improve their conditions Mensheviks took the Marxist line that there would be a long period of bourgeois democratic government during which the workers would develop a class and revolutionary consciousness until they were ready to take over in a socialist revolution. Both parties believed the main tenants of Marxism but they were split over the role of the party Support→ their support came mainly from the working class. The Bolsheviks tended to attract younger more militant peasant workers who like the discipline, firm leadership and simple slogans The Mensheviks tended to attract different types of workers and members of the intelligentsia, also a broader range of people- male, non Russian, especially Jews and Georgians. War with Japan
8th February 1904→ imperial Japanese navy attacked Russia ships based in port Arthur in Manchuria May 1905 Russian navy was annihilated in the tsushima strait Led to mutiny on the battleship Potemkin → funeral = city wide protest, navy disobeyed orders to open fire. First time Asian power defeated a European nation
War was concluded in September 1905 with treaty off Portsmouth → honourable peace due to Witte Summary of 1905 revolution As Russia began the 20th century, to looming presence of a revolution was ever present 1902 poor harvest intensified poverty for peasants. They seized land from land owners and destroyed property. Disorder spread to cities and by the middle of 1903, a wave of strikes in the oil industry, engineering works and the railway threatened to paralyse the economy A war with Japan in 1904 which resulted in an embarrassing defeat and a general discontent with the conduct of the war and alarm at a series of defeats added to economic hardship Mobilisation of peasant’s sons disrupted agriculture and food supplies Agitation began in 1905 with a strike in the putilov steelworks in St. Petersburg on 16 January, due to the dismissal of some workers.
The workers union was subsequently formed with police assistance and approved by father George Gapon, a priest of the Russian orthodox church Gapon organised a protest march and petition to be presented to the tsar at the winter palace on the 22 January. 150000 people marched from all over the city to petition a guarantee of civil liberties (freedom of speech), measures to alleviate poverty (e.g. introduction of an income tax) and better working conditions (e.g. 8 hour days). The tsar was not present, and official officers, who misinterpreted the crowd’s intention, opened fire resulting in 100-2000 deaths and thousands wounded The 1917 revolution
Build up
4th duma 1912-1917 a landowner duma
Unrest due to workers forbidden to form trade unions; strikes illegal, little support from OHS Yet strikes broke out again
Outbreak of war 1914
Serbia needed help
Russia and Slavs identity pulled Russia and Serbia together
France and Serbia allied together sp Russia had to help France as she was indebted to her Russia mobilised → Germany felt threatened
Russia big on manpower but lacked military and industrial back-up Austria-Hungary moved into position
Rasputin
Alexandra was German (spy?)
Alexis suffered from haemophilia
Rasputin was seen by Alexandra as being his only hope
The tsar went to his headquarters and left her in charge, with Rasputin in the wings People were outraged at his debauchery and drunkenness
Assassinated by nobles in December 1916
The war
Massive casualties (2 million Russian’s dead)
Defeat at German front
German occupy large tracts of Russian territory
Food crisis January 1917
The first revolution
Riots in Petrograd against food shortages and poor working conditions The duma was disbanded by the tsar where it expressed support for the people They reformed as a provisional government (emergency or interim government set up when a political void has been created by the collapse of a very large government) A soviet of workers, soldiers and sailor joined them and the tsar, who could not reach Petrograd, abdicated Decisions of the
provisional government
Amnesty for political prisoners
Freedom of speech and free elections
Maintain war effort
Kerensky wanted to protect Russian territory and have a ‘just peace’. The people wanted economic reforms Lenin
A Bolshevik member of the social democratic party (Marxist left) In exile in Switzerland in march 1917
Brought back to Germany in hope of removing Russia from the war Believed in tightly disciplined cells to head the workers
Great orator who believed in world socialism
Bolshevik activities
March-November 1917
Opposed Menshevik policy of co-operating with the bourgeoisie Called for withdrawal from the war, especially after another disaster in Galicia Lenin expected revolution in Germany
Simple slogan ‘peace, bread, land’
Infiltrated key soviets- prepared to seize the moment
Spread discontent in the army
Lenin worked closely with Trotsky
November revolution
November 7th meeting of soviets
Lenin and Trotsky acted by having the ‘red guard’ seize the keys control points of the city- road junctions, railways stations, government buildings and the like. They forcibly removed the provisional government from their offices The all-Russian congress of soviets approved the coup and appointed Lenin chairman of a council of peoples commissars Next step was to take control of the rest of the country.
The fate of the Romanovs
Placed under house arrest by the provisional government
They feared they would be a symbol of revisionists forces so, as forces approached the mourn of Ekaterinburg, where they were being held, the decision was made to kill them all All were killed on july17th 1918 and buried in a common grave in a nearby forest. Their bodies were exhumed in 1991 But 2 bodies were missing-either the daughter Maria or Anastasia and Alexis Anna Anderson was dragged from a canal in Berlin. She claimed to be Anastasia.
Timeline of the Russian Revolution
1887
May 8 (May 20 NS) – Lenin’s brother, Alexander Ulyanov, is hanged for plotting to kill Tzar Alexander III 1894
October 20 (November 1 NS) – Tzar Alexander III dies after a sudden illness and his son, Nicholas II, becomes the ruler of Russia November 14 (November 26 NS) – Tzar Nicholas II marries Alexandra Fedorovna 1895
December 8 (December 20 NS) – Lenin is arrested, kept in solitary confinement for 13 months, and then exiled to Siberia for three years 1896
May 14 (May 26 NS) – Nicholas II crowned Tzar of Russia
1903
July 17 – August 10 (July 30 – August 23 NS) – The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) meeting in which the Party splits into two factions: Mensheviks (“minority”) and Bolsheviks (“majority”) 1904
July 30 (August 12 NS) – After having four girls, Tzarina Alexandra gives birth to a son, Alexei 1905
January 9 (January 22 NS) – Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg begins the 1905 Russian Revolution October 17 (October 30 NS) – The October Manifesto, issued by Tzar Nicholas II, brings an end to the 1905 Russian Revolution by promising civil liberties and an elected parliament (Duma) 1906
April 23 (May 6 NS) – A constitution (the Fundamental Laws of 1906) is created, reflecting the promises made in the October Manifesto 1914
July 15 (July 28 NS) – World War I begins
1915
September 5 (September 18 NS) – Tzar Nicholas II assumes supreme command of the Russian Army 1916
December 17 (December 30) – Rasputin is murdered
1917
February 23-27 (March 8-12 NS) – The February Revolution begins with strikes, demonstrations, and mutinies in Petrograd (also called the March Revolution if following the Gregorian calendar) March 2 (March 15 NS) – Tzar Nicholas II abdicates and includes his son. The following day, Nicholas’ brother, Mikhail announced his refusal to accept the throne. Provisional Government formed April 3 (April 16 NS) – Lenin returns from exile and arrives in Petrograd via a sealed train July 3-7 (July 16-20 NS) – The July Days begin in Petrograd with spontaneous protests against the Provisional Government; after the Bolsheviks unsuccessfully try to direct these protests into a coup, Lenin is forced into hiding July 11 (July 24 NS) – Alexander Kerensky becomes Prime Minister of the Provisional Government August 22-27 (September 4-9 NS) – The Kornilov Affair, a failed coup by General Lavr Kornilov, commander of the Russian Army October 25 (November 7 NS) – The October Revolution – the Bolsheviks take over Petrograd (also called the November Revolution if following the Gregorian calendar) October 26 (November 8 NS) – The Winter Palace, the last holdout of the Provisional Government, is taken by the Bolsheviks; the Council of People’s Commissars (abbreviated as Sovnarkom), led by Lenin, is now in control of Russia 1918
February 1/14 – The new Bolshevik government converts Russia from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar turning February 1 into February 14 March 3 – The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, between Germany and Russia, is signed and takes Russia out of World War I March 8 – The Bolshevik Party changes its name to the Communist Party March 11 – The capital of Russia is changed from St. Petersburg to Moscow June – Russian civil war begins
July 17 – Tzar Nicholas II and his family are executed
August 30 – An assassination attempt leaves Lenin seriously wounded 1920
November – Russian civil war ends
1922
April 3 – Stalin is appointed General Secretary
May 26 – Lenin suffers first stroke
December 15 – Lenin suffers second stroke and retires from politics December 30 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) established 1924
January 21 – Lenin dies; Stalin will become his successor
The route to communism
Feudalism
Government→ absolute monarchy
Means of production → land- land ownership gives power
Social organisation → aristocracy is the dominant group controlling the mass of the population- peasants- who work on their estates. Peasants are virtually owned by their lords and masters Revolutionary change → the revolutionary class is the middle class (merchants, traders, manufacturers). As this group gets wealthier, it begins to break down the rules of feudal society which hinders its development e.g. wants an economy based on money and labourers free to work in towns. Socialism
Government → workers control the state. At first, government is exercised through the dictatorship of the proletariat, a period of strict control necessary to deal with counter revolution (old capitalists) Means of production → factories, machines as in the capitalist period but not owned by individuals. They are owned collectively by everybody. Social organisation → everybody is equal, the class system is brought to an end. Wealth and goods produced by industry are shared fairly. Everybody has an equal entitlement to good housing and decent standards of living. Communism
Government → there is no state, just people who are interested in managing the day-to-day business of keeping society going Social organisation→ everybody is equal. There is an abundance of goods produced by machinery rather than by workers labour, so everyone has much more leisure time. People work on the principle, ‘for each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’ – they take out what they need from a central pool and contribute to society whatever they can.
Capitalism
Government → parliamentary democracy with civil rights, elections, freedom of the press etc. But largely run by the middle classes Social organisation → middle classes or bourgeoisie are the dominant or ruling class although the aristocracy may still hold on to positions of power and prestige.
The mass population move from being peasants to being industrial workers → the proletariat who are forced to work long hours in poor conditions for little reward Revolutionary change → as capitalism grows, so does the proletariat, since more workers are needed to work in factories and commercial premises. Great wealth and material goods are produced, but these are not shared out fairly. A small bourgeoisie gets increasingly wealthy while the proletariat remans poor. Gradually the proletariat remains poor. Gradually the proletariat develops a consciousness and realises that it is being repressed as a class.

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