Was Nicholas solely responsible for the revolution of 1917?
The revolution of 1917 was the culmination of a number of factors coming together and causing the volatile mix of reasons to come together and boil over. The people of Russia where fed up with the horrible conditions they had to put up with and decided to do something about it. Some factor I will discuss include the industrialization, Nicholas introduced several policies which harmed his countries economic prosperity. One thing that caused massive instability was the encouragement of industrialization. Many peasants decided to move to the urban areas in search of a better life, with the most growth in St Petersburg (55% between 1891 and 1900). These peasants found work in various factories, concentrating many more workers into already poor working conditions. 2,500,000 urban workers where now operating in Russia, living in unhygienic conditions, often sharing a bunk with another worker on a separate shift. Long, hard work hours and horrible conditions made these workers very willing to listen to revolutionary activists such as the social activists. By encouraging economic growth, Nicholas had already started causing the problems that ultimately lead to the revolution.
1905 was a bad year for Nicholas’ popularity. In August of 1905, they where defeated in their war with Japan. With this resounding loss, the people of Russia saw the navy’s weakness as an overall representation of Russian weakness. They pushed harder in their search for reform.
As unrest intensified, so did the number of protests where held. Angry workers where trying to improve there working conditions and to start with these protests where very peaceful. On the 9th of January 1905, a peaceful demonstration marched the streets of St Petersburg, asking for improved pay and working conditions. The Tsar then ordered the Imperial Guard to ensure the procession went no further. The Imperial Guard had had very little crowd control experience or training, and decided to open fire at the protesters. Government officials estimated that about 100 people had died while a more accurate estimate may have been around 1,000 dead. People all over Russia where horrified when they learned of the news. The shooting of peaceful civilians angered the peasantry of Russia even further This day was christened ‘Bloody Sunday’ and it began the 1905 revolution. Although this revolution did not have the consequences of the 1917 one, it was directly responsible for causing it.
The 1905 revolution was not the end of the Tsar, mainly because of the reform he quickly bought in to stabilise the situation. This reform was bought in just in time because Russia had virtually grounded to a halt, with transport, communications, shops, schools, factories, universities and government offices all having their workers upping and protesting thought the streets. There was not enough police to control the situation and the army could not be trusted as some branches of the army also upped and joined the protesters. Another thing that briefly kept the Tsar in control was cancelling the redemption payments and effectively handing peasants the lad they had worked on (and repaying for as long as thirty years) for so long. The return of troops from Manchuria helped the Tsar regain control of Russia. By executing key figures that organised the revolution, the Tsar survived this revolution and continued to rule an uneasy country.
The 1905 revolution should have taught the Tsar some important reasons for the chaos that his country was plunged into. The long term survival of the Romanov rule depended on the Tsar pleasing his country and some unsuccessful attempts where made.
The Tsar did not help his cause in the period between 1906 and 1912. He introduced a parliament, the duma. This gave some hope that Russia would now not be an Autocracy, but it was short lived as the Tsar quickly took most of the Dumas power away from it, scared...
Bibliography: Challenge, Change and Continuity. (2001). 33 park road , Milton, Queensland 4064 John Wiley and sons.
Wikipedia [Internet] Available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_II_of_Russia
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