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Why did Nicholas II survive the revolution of 1905 but not that of 1917?

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Introduction

Why did Nicholas II survive the revolution of 1905 but not that of 1917? When Father Gapon and his followers marched peacefully on the Winter Palace on 22nd January in what came to be known as Bloody Sunday due to the extreme reaction leading to the massacre of the protestors, it sparked the revolution of 1905, consisting of workers' strikes and protests in addition to terrorising the wealthy and important upper classes. As well as being a response to Bloody Sunday, the 1905 revolution was a result of pent up dissatisfaction with the autocracy in Russia and with the vast social inequality. However, in spite of the unrest within the country, the tsar managed to retain power after this revolution. In 1917, when the people revolted again, he was not so lucky, and the autocracy fell. There are many reasons why the Tsar was able to survive the 1905 revolution, not least of which was the benefit of good ministers to advise him well. Stolypin tried to have a moderating influence on the Tsar and to help him make concessions to the people which would promise to improve their lives enough that the revolution would die down. ...read more.

Middle

Stolypin also helped to further satisfy the people and to improve their lives by his series of land reforms following soon after the revolution of 1905. This apparent relaxing of the autocracy pacified the people enough for the tsar to maintain his position in 1905. By 1917, making concessions was no longer an option: the people had seen that the Duma had only a nominal influence and was nothing more than a pacifier, the Tsar having dismissed the first Duma after only 73 days, the second lasting only a short while longer, and the tsar having the ultimate decision on all matters no matter what the Duma might think. The Russian people would not settle for being bought off with promises a second time: by 1917 they would only be happy with the abdication of the Tsar. Although the turning of the Cossacks on the people caused the problem of the Bloody Sunday Massacre, the loyalty of the army to the Tsar was a key factor in his retention of power. ...read more.

Conclusion

With no armed forces to control it, the whole situation descended into disorganised anarchy in 1917. Although the October Manifesto may have saved the Tsar in 1905, his failure to fulfil the promises stipulated therein played a large part in his downfall in 1917. The emergence of the free press after 1905 granted the right to express opinions by publication meant that the Tsar was widely criticised to the public for the first time, whereas previously none of his wrong-doings had ever been made known, and he was viewed as ordained by god. Now however the Russians began to see him as fallible and to question his actions, leading to further unrest. Similarly, and perhaps most importantly, the Duma in 1917 provided a viable alternative to the autocracy which had not been present in 1905. Ironically, just as freeing the serfs had led to them wanting more and assassinating Tsar Alexander II, Nicholas' grandfather, so granting the people their Duma in 1905 in part led to the eventual downfall of the Tsar in 1917. ...read more.

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