The Causes of the Collapse of Tsarism

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2. Russia's involvement in World War 1, rather than the revolutionary parties, caused the collapse of Tsarism in February 1917.' Discuss.

Russia's involvement in the Great War is accepted as a major factor in the collapse of the Tsarist system but whether it takes precedence in importance over the influence of the revolutionary parties is debateable. Historians are split between those who believe that the revolution was an inevitability, which was just hastened by war and those who believe that the revolution would not have had sufficient support to succeed in a peacetime situation. There is a significant amount of evidence in favour of the latter theory. To gain a perspective on the plausibility of this theory the situation in pre-war Russia must be compared with the situation that fostered revolution 1917. In the period between 1905 to 1914 Russia was not in a favourable state economically, politically or socially when compared to the other great powers; but progress was being made which was to a certain extent appeasing both the liberals and socialist elements in the population. Following the 1905 revolution the Tsar had been forced to realise that the autocracy was fighting a losing battle against political agitators and opponents of the regime.1 So a policy of economic and political change was adopted in an attempt to pacify both the masses and the regimes political opponents. (At this time the liberals and moderate socialists were still seen as the real threat to autocracy) The most immediate political changes were made in the October Manifesto, which was reactionary legislation to the 1905 action and promised political change and civil liberties. Between this October legislation and the Imperial manifesto of February 1906 a bicameral legislature was established but with the Tsar maintaining an absolute veto on all proposed legislation. This October Manifesto and subsequent legislation was spurned by most of the socialists and Liberals but it did...
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