Russian History 1881 – 1914
What was Russia like in 1881?
• 82% of the population were illiterate peasant farmers. • No technology was used on farms – subsistence farming. • Largest standing army in Europe.
• No political parties and the press was heavily censored. • Fierce loyalty to the Tsar – often enforced by brutal secret police. • Royalty owned most of the land – Tsar’s estate was larger than some countries. • 1861 – Tsar Alexander II freed serfs but peasants still tied to land. • Aristocracy could no longer buy/sell peasants and they could freely marry. • Government loans given to peasants to buy land – 49 year loans. • Aristocracy still owned two thirds of Russian land.
• 1861 – new village councils called Mirs controlled the peasants giving out land using the Open Field System and providing permission for peasants to travel. • 1864 – town councils set up called Zemstva where all classes of voters chose who represented them for issues such as road maintenance, prisons, poor relief and the army – but the nobles had more power than most. • 1870 – urban areas given councils called Dumas.
• New industrialisation created a working class and intelligentsia. They could not vote.
Russian Society in 1897
• Ruling Classes (royal family, court, govt, nobility, army, clergy)
- 12.5% • Commercial Class (factory owners, merchants and bankers)
- 1.5% • Working Class
• Early Russian Economy
• Russia was economically backward and industry was small scale. • St Petersburg and Moscow had some large textile factories. • The Urals had a substantial iron industry.
• The size of Russia, her poor communication & transport network restricted industrial growth. • Russian banks were ineffective and loans were not readily available for investment. • Most peasants worked from home to increase their incomes. • Land was the main source of income for the government. • Russia had bad soil, the weather was too cold and there was not enough land. There was the problem of dividing up the land. Buying land meant peasants had large debts and made it difficult for them to improve land. Farmers used the old strip system and this made agriculture even more inefficient and limited food supplies.
• Who ruled the country?
• The Tsar - the Romanov family since 1613.
• Imperial Council - a group of advisers appointed by the Tsar. • The Cabinet of Ministers - appointed by the Tsar to run the government departments. • RUSSIA WAS POLITICALLY BACKWARD COMPARED TO THE REST OF EUROPE
• Russian Orthodox Church
• Helped the Tsar to govern.
• Owned a lot of land.
• Taught peasants that ‘God commands us to love and obey… the Tsar.’ • Was also influential over the Russian court.
The Russian Army
• Used to control people.
• Conscription was a form of punishment.
• Discipline was very harsh.
• Officer commissions were bought and only aristocrats could become officers. • 45% of the national budget was spent on the army.
Russian Courts and Judges
• Appointed by the Minister of Justice (who was appointed by the Tsar). • Trials were by jury in open court.
• Peasants had a separate legal status and their own court called the volost. • At local and national level the civil service and the police were controlled by people who were incompetent, inefficient and corrupt.
Alexander III (1881 – 1894)
• Became Tsar in 1881 following the assassination of his father by the ‘People’s Will’ organization protesting against Alexander II’s decision to stop his reforming policies. • He trained for the army rather than as Tsar.
• He only became heir to the throne at the age of 20 because his elder brother died. • He was very tall (6’3”), naturally conservative...
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