Assess the View that Nicholas II survived the Revolution of 1905 mainly because of the divisions of his opponents.
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. 
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. 
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”
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.
This is a preview of the whole essay
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 real update in industry, this is one of the problems for Lenin in the future that Russia’s industry was behind everyone else’s.
A lot of Russia was arable land and not cultivated. Most of the population lived in the West and with a large Locomotive network to Vladivostok, but it’s didn’t go beyond, so there is a lack of connection to different places in Russia. In 1905 this large Locomotive line would come in useful as Troops from the east would return west to crush the revolt.
The opponents to the Tsar politically were of course the Left-Wing Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries (SR’s) and at that time before the split the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (A combination of the Mensheviks & Bolsheviks) even the Kadets wanted a more democratic society.
The Tsar had numerous opponents the biggest being the Kadets a liberal minded party who wanted to adopt the British system of government. They wanted a democratic nation with a monarchy whilst the biggest left-wing the RSDLP was facing a split between two of its biggest ego’s Vladimir Lenin & Julius Martov.
This revolution was not totally unexpected unlike the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 Father George Gapon wrote to the Tsar on January 22nd 1905 “The people believe in thee. They have made up their minds to gather at the Winter Palace tomorrow at 2 p.m. to lay their needs before thee. Do not fear anything. Stand tomorrow before the party and accept our humblest petition. I, the representative of the workingmen, and my comrades, guarantee the inviolability of thy person”. Following that an extract from the petition sent to the Tsar from George Gapon “We workers, our children, our wives and our old, helpless parents have come, Lord, to seek truth and protection from you. We are impoverished and oppressed, unbearable work is imposed on us, we are despised and not recognized as human beings. We are treated as slaves, who must bear their fate and be silent. We have suffered terrible things, but we are pressed ever deeper into the abyss of poverty, ignorance and lack of rights”. 
Over 150,000 people signed the petition and on 22nd January, 1905, Gapon led a large procession of workers to the Winter Palace in order to present the petition to . When the procession of workers reached the Winter Palace it was attacked by the police and the Cossacks. Over 100 workers were killed and some 300 wounded. The incident, known as Bloody Sunday, signalled the start of the . 
A dairy extract from the Tsar writing on the 22nd January, 1905 “A painful day. There have been serious disorders in St. Petersburg because workmen wanted to come up to the Winter Palace. Troops had to open fire in several places in the city; there were many killed and wounded. God, how painful and sad”. 
“There are some striking similarities between the situations in 1905 and 1917. In both cases, popular unrest arose partly out of military failure, and liberal and proletarian objectives coincided. Nicholas survived in 1905 because the army remained basically loyal, allowing him the option of repression. He also made concessions that were sufficient to head off more radical demand. His survival also owed much to the work of two able ministers, Witte and Stolypin”.
Peter Stolypin, the President of the Council of Ministers, was to ensure the safety of Russia after the 1905 revolution. He was dedicated to strengthen Tsardom after a time of crisis and made the restoration of order his immediate task. His coercive attitude was, "suppression first, and then, and only then - reform." He carried out this attitude in 1907 by arresting an estimated 1,231 officials. He created a field court martial under the Article 87 of the Fundamental laws which enabled military courts to deal with cases of disturbances without cause or difficulty. Six hundred unions were closed between 1906 to 1912 and all one thousand propaganda newspapers during this period banned. Richard Pipes describes the "noose" as, "Stolypin's necktie." One could say this increase of executions of revolutionaries helped in the consolidation of the Tsar's position. 
The Kadets favoured revolutionary change towards a more Western European system of government. There were two main liberal parties, the Octobrists and the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets). Kadets: Concentrated on political reforms and the introduction of civil rights and universal suffrage. The Octoberists named after the October Manifesto of Tsar Nicholas, which they saw as a basis for cooperation. They opposed universal suffrage. 
Splits within the Liberal movement were also reflected by divisions in the Left. The Mensheviks & the Bolsheviks who split in 1903 from the RSDLP. The Mensheviks were Marxists who wanted a socialist party where the masses participated in all aspects of the party structure. Political repression under the tsar forced them to operate in secret, but they were not comfortable with the methods of the Socialist Revolutionaries and opted for a patient and gradual approach to political change. The Mensheviks believed that Russia was not ready for socialism—it would come to Russia only after it had been achieved in the West. The Mensheviks’ goal was to pave the way for that revolution by organizing the workers and helping them toward greater class consciousness. 
The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, were Marxists and favoured a socialist party that was directed from the top by a small, elite core. Lenin believed that only a secret and highly trained organization of militant revolutionaries could prevail. In Russia, they would need to become a tight-knit, highly disciplined group before the masses could be properly brought to the party. Lenin argued that workers needed the leadership of Bolshevik leaders to guide their work in the street and the factories. 
The first general strike led by the workers Council (The Soviet) which was led by Leon Trotsky. At that time Trotsky was a Menshevik, a member of a socialist group who believed that a post-revolutionary government would initially have to be led by the middle class. The government, economy, and public services ground to a halt as millions of workers protested. Lawlessness exploded around the country. This Soviet would be disbanded after the uprising and its members sent to Siberia.
Beryl Williams writes that the Kadets “talked of universal suffrage, and some even called for a republic and votes for women. The Kadets had much popular support, with a radical programme and over 350 local branches by 1906”. 
In conclusion the split in opposition to Tsar was important, but was not the major factor. The army supported the Tsar, so there was someone to defend him unlike in 1917 when the army leaders turned against the Tsar. The opposition was divided heavily not just the Left of Russian politics but even the centre parties were divided about the Tsar’s future. The fact was, this mass strike that became a revolt was caused not by a political party unlike in 1917 but a priest who stood against the Tsar, one man versus the dynasty of Russia.
The Army’s support was also crucial in the Tsar crushing the revolt and the workers council, but really the opposition had little impact on the fighting that occurred it was more about workers’ rights than anything else whilst in 1917 the Tsar had become head of the army and had given himself a much larger responsibility, and since he had failed in the eyes of the people it became impossible for him to remain in charge.
Source 1 
Source 2 
Source 3  The Russian Revolution 1899-1919, Richard Pipes , Published in 1990
Source 4 
Source 5  Modern History, By Philip Nichols, Hermione Baines, Richard Davies, Andrew Hall & Mark Seymour
Source 6 
Source 7  Russian Revolution Daniel Field by, Professor of History, Emeritus, Syracuse University, Stephen P. Frank, Associate Professor of History, UCLA, Abbott Gleason, Barnaby Conrad and Mary Critchﬁeld Keeney Professor of History, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Patricia Herlihy, Professor of History, Emerita; Professor of International Relations (Research), Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Ronald Grigor Suny Professor of Political Science and History, University of Chicago
Source 8 History Today, Volume 55 May 2005, Russia 1905 by Beryl Williams