1. Describe the key features of the government of Russia under Nicholas II before the revolution in February 1917? (6)

Topics: Russian Empire, Tsar, Nicholas II of Russia Pages: 1 (286 words) Published: May 30, 2014
The government was an autocracy which meant that all power resided in the hands of the Tsar. Nicholas II, however, had a weak and stubborn personality. He was not willing to share his authority with the Duma (parliament) and his government relied on oppression to remain in power. The army and Okhrana (secret police) were used to stamp out protests. A further key feature was that the government was dependent on a narrow social base of aristocratic supporters, which left it vulnerable to opposition from the vast majority of Russians. During the war years the growing scale of strikes and demonstrations was becoming too difficult for the government to handle.The war caused huge casualties (9 out of 15 million soldiers) for very little gain and a series of defeats in battle led to a collapse in morale. Consequently, the Tsar was blamed for failure because he had taken command of the army in 1915. As a result the Tsar was absent from the capital and he left his wife in charge. The Tsarina was distrusted because of her German origins and she was under the corrupt influence of Rasputin, who had the power to appoint and dismiss ministers at will. This led to a major loss of confidence in the government.

Moreover, the war had put enormous pressures on the people with shortages of bread and fuel. Inflation was 300%. This led to strikes and mass demonstrations which numbered 100,000s of people. The police could not contain protests on such a massive scale and so the government turned to the army to restore order. When the army mutinied the Tsar lost his authority and he was forced to abdicate. The overall effect of WW1 was to destroy Tsarist rule.
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