Assess the View that Nicholas II survived the Revolution of 1905 mainly because of the divisions of his opponents.

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By Daniel Harrington Candidate No: 5093

15.10 Assess the View that Nicholas II survived the Revolution of 1905 mainly because of the divisions of his opponents.

Before the events of the 1905 revolution Russia was a very turbulent place. The peasants who formed over 80% of the population were the victims of a famine on a biblical scale and wanted to own the land and not have to pay redemption payments. The Liberals who wanted to have a constitutional government to share and limit the Tsar’s power. The workers who wanted to reduce the working day and have better working conditions. So with these three main groups all wanted reform, something was going to have to change. [1]

Illegal political parties were arising to share their discontent with Russia and their Tsar and create a framework for ideas of revolution, with demands and strikes. The social revolutionaries and democrats had existed from 1901, yet public support was achieved in 1905 when living was hard, and the belief of god and the Tsar had been slowly lost. These parties were illegal, yet the Tsar (Nicholas II) could not satisfy the people in order to prove these parties unnecessary. All these political opponents were a symptom of the lack of attention the Tsar applied to Mother Russia. How strong actions needed to be taken and the hunger of the people needed to be satisfied at any scale possible. The participation of these parties resulted in strikes and a build-up of the Russia changing, general strike. Conclusively, the build of political parties and the failure to heed their needs allowed the citizens of Russia to demand and express themselves more, eventually leading to the activity of revolution and strike. [2]

The major problem for the Tsar was his autocratic rule and lack of will to give anyone else any sort of power. The Tsar dismantled any Duma who didn’t do what he told them. Many in Russia looked at the British system of a constitutional monarchy with a fully elected democratic government, as for many a Russia without a Tsar was unthinkable.

Richard Pipes in his book the Russian Revolution 1899-1919 states that “Russia without a Tsar in the people’s minds was a contradiction in terms; for them it was the person of the Tsar that defined and gave reality to the state”[3]

The difficulty for the Tsar was the size of his empire and the abuses of power that previous Tsar’s had undertaken. Even revolutionaries like Trotsky wrote about the Tsar as a leader, in 1932 Trotsky wrote that “His ancestors did not pass on to him one quality which would have made him capable of governing an empire.”  Nicholas believed wholeheartedly in autocracy.  He thought that democracy with elections and parliaments would lead to the collapse of Russia.  Nicholas knew very little about the [Russian] people.  He did not visit factories or villages, or go on tours.  His information about what was going on came from a small number of people, who were quite happy to protect him from the realities of life in Russia.

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Now during this time Russia had been in a long war with the Empire of Japan in which Russia was expected to win, but lost to a group of tiny islands which was an embarrassment to the Tsar. The Tsar now faced an empire with workers who wanted more rights, more money and less time at work. They weren’t unreasonable demands but with the lack of industrial growth and modern industry unlike Germany and Britain, beyond the means of the Russian state. The reason that there was no economic growth was because of the Russo-Japanese war and there was no ...

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