The Strengths of the Tsar’s government were those usually found in an autocratic regime. Church, army, a repressive secret police, and unthinking love of the peasantry. The weakness of the government lay in its incompetence, in the huge size of Russia’s economic poverty and in the pressures coming from a modernizing world. From a middle class in which had already in 1905 forced the Tsar to set up a Duma, and from extreme political groups who wanted even more radical change.
1. The Peasants loved the Tsar as ‘their father’, and revered him as empowered from God – though this was shattered in St Petersburg in 1905, when the Cossacks attacked a peaceful demonstration (Bloody Sunday).
2. The Romanov dynasty had ruled since 1613 – the 300th celebrations saw a wave of popularity for the Tsar. In 1905, there had been a revolution and Nicholas was forced to accept a Duma (parliament), but it had no power and the Tsar dismissed it if it disagreed with him.
3. The church was powerful and supported the Romanov government.
4. Government and the army were controlled by the nobles and supported the government, which used the Cossacks to put down protests (eg Bloody Sunday 1905)
5. The secret police (Okrana) and press censorship.
6. There were two parties in the Duma which supported the Tsar:
|the ‘Rights‘ (called by Lenin ‘the Black Hundreds’) – deputies who so supported the Tsar that they wanted to abolish the Duma and restore autocracy.|
|The ‘Octoborists‘ – during the troubles of 1905, the Tsar and his chief minister Witte had published the October Manifesto, which promised freedom of speech, no imprisonment without trial, and a Duma to approve all laws. The Octobrists were supporters of the Tsar who did not want to go so far as to restore autocracy, but wanted him to keep to the October manifesto.|
The headquarters to the Okrana was located in the St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy, and it was thus linked with the Russian Orthodox Church.
1. Russia had been humiliated in a war with Japan, 1904
2. There were many nationalities, languages and religions (the only unity was the Romanov dynasty).
3. Russia was vast – 125 million people spread across Europe and Asia. This made government difficult, especially because of poor communications – bad roads and few railways.
4. An out-of-date farming economy. Most of the population were peasants who lived in the country and are under the control of the nobles.
5. Russia was beginning to industrialize (eg Trans-Siberian railway, 1904). Towns/ factories were starting to grow up. But there was worker poverty and poor living conditions – which created a large workforce, disaffected and concentrated in Petrograd, the capital. Also a small wealthier middle class were beginning to want a say in the government.
6. Tsar Nicholas was an autocrat – Nicholas carried out all the business of government alone, without even a secretary, an impossible load He was a weak Tsar. At first he refused to compromise then, in the crisis of 1917, failed to act.
7. There was opposition to the government from:
|The Kadets – middle classes and liberal landowners who wanted Russia to have a Parliament like England.|
|Social Revolutionaries (wanted a peasant revolution, and to take all the land from the nobles).|
|The Communists (followers of Karl Marx), who were divided into the moderate Mensheviks (wanted Communism without a revolution) and the extremist Bolsheviks (wanted a violent proletarian revolution).|
|After 1900, there were many assassinations and protests (eg Bloody Sunday, 1905 and the murder of Prime Minister Stolypin in 1911
The Russian’s lost the Russo-Japanese war because