To what extent was Tsar Nicholas II able to restore his authority from 1905-1914?

Authors Avatar by 01williamsm (student)

To what extent was Tsar Nicholas II able to restore his authority from 1905-1914?

The 1905 revolution came close to toppling Tsar Nicholas II and his autocratic regime; widespread strikes and uprisings catalysed by the events of Bloody Sunday, caused chaos. However, by 1914 autocracy was still ruling and appeared popular, given the extensive support the Tsar had for going to war in 1914. Whilst it is true that Nicholas did manage to restore his authority through economic, political and social improvements during this period, it was only partial and the underlying causes of the 1905 revolution had not been resolved. Opposition groups such as the Social Democrats and the Mensheviks had been driven underground, but remained. Russia was still severely undeveloped in comparison to western European countries and living conditions across Russia were poor, with widespread discontent amongst the working class and peasantry consequently remaining.

During 1905-1914 Tsar Nicholas was able to restore political authority and stability, through a mixture of timely concessions and repression. In 1905, Nicholas reluctantly signed the October Manifesto, which promised, among other things to guarantee civil freedoms and to create a national assembly that would have the power to pass or reject laws, the Duma. Importantly, the manifesto split Liberal opposition to the regime enabling Nicholas to consolidate his power. The Kadets were appeased by the idea of having freedom of speech and a truly representative government whereas the Marxists maintained that Nicholas had only made small concessions, arguing that the Duma was only a shell of democracy. The idea of a constitutional monarchy provided by the Duma could arguably have worked and saved Russia from a revolution in 1917, however the Tsar’s unwillingness to accept any form of democracy prevented this. By dividing the opposition, the threat to the regime was weakened, enabling the Tsar to gradually reassert authority. This is evident in 1906, when the Tsar produces the Fundamental Laws; limiting the powers of the Duma (Article 87) and forcing a complete return to autocracy. The loyalty of the army was crucial in allowing Nicholas to regain authority himself, having returned from the Russo-Japanese War, Nicholas temporarily established a military dictatorship and brutally put down strikes as well as crushing the St Petersburg Soviet. However, opposition groups still remained and throughout the period before 1914 continued to undermine the Tsars authority, shown in the assassinations of government ministers, such as Stolypin in 1911. Similarly, the Tsar remained politically incompetent and unfit to govern Russia effectively, show in his inability to deal with the Duma. Many saw that Nicholas had betrayed the people with the introduction of the Fundamental Laws and gradual monopolisation of the Dumas, culminating in the 1907 coup d’état, whereby the Duma was completely dissolved. In the short term the Tsar effectively restored his authority, however in the long term his actions provoked increasing opposition and distrust for the regime. Although the Tsar was able to restore some aspects of political authority via repression, it can be argued that Nicholas did not tackle the underlying problems and so only prevented an inevitable political crisis.

Join now!

Economically Russia continued to boom throughout the years leading up to the First World War. Coal production increased from 8million tonnes in 1890 to 90million tonnes in 1913. Coal along with other industries such as iron and agriculture grew rapidly. It can be argued that the modernisation of Russia and the rapid expansion of cities and urban areas, acted as a catalyst for the growth of opposition and revolutionary ideals due the increased density in population and poor working and conditions in cities, hostility to the Tsar grew. However, despite this growth, Russia was unable to go through substantial ...

This is a preview of the whole essay