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Why was so little effort made to save Tsardom on February (March) 1917?

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Introduction

Why was so little effort made to save Tsardom on February (March) 1917? In 1914 when W.W.I broke out the Tsar was more popular than at any other time of his reign: he was the "Little Father" of all the Russians, the defender of "Mother Russia". And yet on 15th March 1917 Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. He tried to pass the throne to his brother, the Grand Duke Michael, but he refused and it seems there was no attempt to find another candidate. Within a very few days the monarchy which had ruled for three hundred years came to an end and Russia became a republic. Why had Nicholas become so unpopular that very few were interested in saving Tsardom? Russia under the Tsars was an autocracy, which meant that the Tsar had absolute power. Already starting from Alexander II' s reign there was resentment of the autocratic system, and by the end of the 19th century several revolutionary groups and political parties were beginning to develop. They began to demand changes in the way the country was run but political opposition was confined to a small minority of the population. ...read more.

Middle

They were also very dissatisfied because of the heavy burden of redemption payment from the days of serf emancipation. Workers who were concentrated in the cities after industrialisation were also dissatisfied because of their terrible working and living conditions. But despite their poverty and hardships the common people were not really interested in politics because they were too busy trying to survive. They thought of the Tsar as their "Little Father" and did not blame him personally for their problems. This changed on 22 January 1905, however, when a peaceful workers" demonstration in St. Petersburg was brutally crushed by the Imperial troops and thousands were shot, hung and imprisoned. "Bloody Sunday" as it was called "did more than perhaps anything else during the whole of the reign to undermine the allegiance of the common people to the throne" 2. A peasant"s union was formed , the All-Russian Peasant Union, in 1905, and there was a lot of unrest. The Tsar was forced to agree to a set of concessions in the October Manifesto, such as the cancellation of redemption payments and an attempt was made to carry out some land reforms but the problem of the "land-hungry" peasants was not solved. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although there was opposition in Russia to the Tsar"s autocracy before the Great War, W.W.I was the major factor that caused his downfall. In February 1917 "the scale of Russian defeats made it more difficult for the Tsar"s supporters to hold back the growing number of critics to the Tsar's style of ruling Russia" 3. The fact that he had run the war as an autocrat , refusing to "co-operate with patriotic elements in the Duma and elsewhere, and his personal assumption of military responsibility all served to alienate elements which might otherwise have provided moderate conservative support for Nicholas. When the hardships of the war produced riots and strikes at the beginning of 1917 important elements in the army, in the Duma, and even within the Imperial family, could no longer see any reason to support a leader whose methods of government now appeared foolish and bankrupt."4 Little effort was made to save the Tsardom in February/March 1917 also because this time, unlike in 1905, there was an alternative form of government ready to take the place of the Tsar, settle the unrest and hopefully end the war successfully. 1 From a speech in the Dumas by P. Miliukov, Europe 1870-1991, p.210 2 Richard Charques, Europe 1870-1991, p.162 3 www.bbc.co.uk 4 Europe 1870-1991, p.206 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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