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Russia During the First War World

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Russia during the first war world


The Russian Empire

Tsar Nicholas II

* Totally committed to the idea of the Tsar as absolute ruler of Russia.

* He was interested in the Far East. This got him into a disastrous war with Japan.

* He was not a very effective ruler, unable to concentrate on the business of being a Tsar.

* By 1917 he lost control of Russia and abdicated.

* In 1918 He and his family were shot during the Russian Civil War.

Peasants and the countryside

Around 80% of R population were peasants who lived in communities. There were prosperous peasant farmers called kulaks, but living and working conditions for most peasants were dreadful. Farming was backward and primitive, there was no education and hunger and disease were common. Despite this, mainly because of the teaching of the Church, most peasants were loyal to the Tsar although some did support the opposition Social Revolutionaries who wanted to take the good faring land from the aristocrats and the Church and give it to the peasants.

New industries, cities and the working class

From 19th Century, the Tsar had been keen to see Russia become an industrial power. Policies were introduced which led to a rapid industrial growth. Some peasants left the land to work in these newly developing industries. However, their living conditions hardly improved. They were jammed into slum housing in the cities, suffered from illnesses, alcoholism, the working conditions were low as well as the pay. The unions were illegal so there was no way to protest. Most workers were probably no better off than the peasants.

The middle classes

As a result of industrialisation, the capitalist class begun to emerge in Russia. They were landowners, industrialists, bankers, traders and businessmen. Until this time, R had had only a small middle class which included people such as shopkeepers, lawyers and university lecturers. The capitalist increased the size of R middle class, particularly in the towns.

The Tsar and his government

The empire was ruled by an autocracy. Nicholas II, who was the Tsar, had some qualities such as his willingness to work hard and his attention to detail. However, he avoided making important decisions. He did not delegate day to day tasks. He insisted on getting involved in the tiniest detail of the government, for example he personally answered letters from peasants and appointed provincial midwives.


The Tsar´s regime exercised strong control over the people. Newspapers were censored and political parties banned. The Tsar had a secret police force, the Okharana, which was in charge of dealing with political opponents of the regime, it was very effective and sent thousands to prison and exile in Siberia. Backing them up was the army, which could be counted to put down any disturbances, particularly those of terrifying Cossack regiments. A loyal army was crucial for the Tsar´s regime.

The peasants belonged to a mir or village community which controlled different aspects of daily life. Land captains, who belonged to the local nobility, dealt with crimes and disputes, they were hated by peasants. They had power to arrest people, put down trouble, censor newspapers, etc.

There were elected town and district councils called zemstva, but these were dominated by the nobility and professional classes. The zemtsva did good work in areas such as health and education and gave people useful experienced in running local government. Some people wanted a national zemstvo through which elected representatives could play a part in the running of the country.

Opposition to the Tsar

The Tsarist government face opposition from three particular groups. These people were called liberals. Two other groups were more violent. The Tsarist government face opposition from three particular groups. These people were called liberals.

Two other groups were more violently opposed to the Tsar. They believed that Revolution was the answer to people's troubles. The Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) were a radical movement. Their main aim was to grab the huge estates of the novelty and hand them over to the peasants. They believe in a violent struggle and were responsible for the assassination of two government official, as well as the murder of a large number of Okhrana agents and spies. They have support in the towns on the countryside.

The Social Democratic Party was a smaller but more discipline party which followed ideas of Karl Marx. In 1903 the party split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks were led by Lenin believe it was the job of the party to create a revolution whereas the Mensheviks believe Russia was not ready for revolution. Both of these organisations were illegal and many of their members have been executed or sent in exile to Siberia. Many of the leading Social Democratic leaders were forced to live abroad.

The 1905 Revolution

At the beginning of the century Rush Hour station Frost changes in the society an industry and cities were also growing rapidly. After 1900 Russia was hit by an economy depression wages fell, factories and mines closed and people were thrown out of work. This led to strikes and unrest. To make matters worse a poor harvest less left to hunger and peasants revolt. The only answer the government could come up with was force and suppression.

The Tsar to go to war with Japan. This may have been an attempt by the Tsar to unite the Russian people against an outside enemy. But the Russian Suffered a series of humiliating defeat which made the government appear unfit and incompetent.

Bloody Sunday

Another problem faced by Russia was having lost the war with Japan. All this tension came altogether on Sunday 22nd of January 1905. Protesters went to the Winter Palace give a petition to the Tsar. Many of this marchers carried pictures of the Tsar to show their respect for him. The Tsar had left to St Petersburg. The protesters were met by a regiment of soldiers and mounted Cossack. Without any warning, the soldiers opened fire on the Cossack charge. The Tsar lost respect of the ordinary people of Russia.

The Bloody Sunday sparked a wave of strikes which is spread to other cities. Barricades appear in the streets accompanied by riots and violence. The uncle


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