• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month


Extracts from this document...


HOW STABLE WAS THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE ON THE OUTBREAK OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR IN 1914? The Russian Revolution of 1917 was born to a large extent out of the defeats and chaos of the First World War, and many historians have argued that the Bolshevik seizure of power was mainly attributable to this factor. Certainly the war highlighted the weaknesses of the Russian economy and system of government. Nevertheless, the level of revolutionary activity in the preceding fifty years suggests that the Tsarist regime was vulnerable to political upheaval, and therefore it might be fairer to say that war determined the nature, timing and course of the revolution rather than being its main cause. Jose' The autocratic Russian government had to contend with many problems. At the heart of these problems was her backwardness economically, socially and politically. The dilemma facing her rulers from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of World War One was whether or not to modernize and unleash potentially dangerous forces for change, or resist change and risk falling further behind her Western European rivals. ...read more.


Not even the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 could improve the social and economic situation of the peasantry. Russian industry was still under-developed in the second half of the nineteenth century. Witte's attempts at rapid, government-inspired modernization carried with them the threat of political upheaval in so far as they created for the first time in Russian history a sizeable bourgeoisie and urban proletariat. The Russian tsars also faced the problem of a tradition of violent revolutionary activity, which arguably dated back to the Decembrist consp�racy of 1825. Alexander II had been assassinated by members of the 'Narodnaya Volya', and this reinforced the reactionary policies of his successors. Marxists, Social Revolutionaries, Nihilists, Anarchists and others were all committed at various times to the overthrow of Tsarism. It would probably also be fair to say that the policies of the Tsars actually increased and inflamed this revolutionary threat, and by 1914 the support base for the Romanov dynasty was dangerously narrow and decreasing alarmingly. ...read more.


Indeed, it is possible that the Tsar and his advisers hoped that the surge of patriotism accompanying the war might deflect people's attentions from the deteriorating economic situation, thus repeating the mistake of the Russo-Japanese War. Thus the Tsarist regime faced major challenges to its very existence in 1914. What eventually destroyed it, however, were the disasters and humiliating defeats of the First World War. Quite clearly the Imperial Russian Government was unable to cope with the political, social, economic and military demands of a modern war. Some historians (eg - Hugh Seton-Watson) have lamented the fact that the war prevented Russia from developing into a liberal, Western European style state. Such arguments ignore the fact that most of the Tsars preferred to resist, or at the very least delay, such political changes. Besides, it is clear that the Russian Empire was inherently backward and unstable, and peaceful, evolutionary development was unlikely. Tsarism had faced many previous challenges to its existence, and it is quite possible that it might have succumbed to another crisis even without the experience of defeat in war. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Historical Periods section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Historical Periods essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Was the War Measures act necessary for the October Crisis

    4 star(s)

    When interviewed and questioned upon their actions. These bombings occurred particularly the city of Westmount, which was an Anglophone city. Other bombings occurred in areas such as the Montreal City Hall, many railway tracks, army installations, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police recruitment offices. One attack at the recruitment office claimed their first target, 65-year-old Wildred O'Neil.

  2. To what extent did WW1 cause the collapse of Tsarism?

    These complications did bring reasons for survival with the presentation of the October Manifesto of 1905. Nicholas II had to be persuaded by the chief minister, Witte, to make concessions, demonstrating his lack of leadership skills. The control of the army was enough to survive as those still willing to fight were loyal to the Tsar.

  1. To what extent had the Russian economy been successfully modernised by 1914?

    This was partly because the majority of serfs had no money to spend, let alone invest, and were unable to prosper economically. Consequently, it can be seen that in 1856 serfdom was a break on economic development. This was understood by the Tsarist government, and they aimed to remove this

  2. How and why did the Bolsheviks gain power in 1917?

    There, on the 25th of October, the "Day of the Bolsevik" became a reality. Kerensky's supporters and he being isolated in the Winter Palace, there was little resistance to be had to the final acts of the revolution. Kerensky did escape, however, and left the city, heading for the front hoping to gain support.

  1. To What Extent was the 1905 Revolution due to the Consequences of the 1904-1905 ...

    ministers to run the various governmental departments; however, they were not responsible to a parliament or a prime minister, only to the Tsar himself. Therefore he could control them and have them do exactly what he wanted. He denied the people their basic freedoms such as free press and freedom to form political parties.

  2. The First English Civil War

    The local forces, in fact, were everywhere employed by whichever side could, by producing valid written authority, induce them to assemble. The Royalist and Parliamentarian armies This thread of local feeling and respect for the laws runs through the earlier operations of both sides, almost irrespective of the main principles at stake.

  1. To What Extent Was The South African War (1899 - 1902) A Capitalist War

    Butler accepted and resigned his post in the summer of 1899, just before the start of the war. It was a hard blow struck for the pro-war imperialists. In analysing the nature of imperialism as a trigger for the South African war, the individuals involved become invaluable to finding the roots of the issue.

  2. Russo Japanese War

    The recently built Trans-Siberian railway came into effect here, to pour the troops toward the conflict. However at first go, many people in Japan were extremely prepared for the Russians to come over and most of the Russian troops died.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work