To what extent was the Tsarist system of government modified in the years 1881-1914?
The Tsarist system of government underwent many changes throughout the years of 1881-1914. Both Alexander III and Nicholas II created several modifications, being both good and bad, to the government during these years. Alexander III created mostly negative changes, due to him being seen as a reactionary, whereas Nicholas II created mainly positive changes to the government as a result of the 1905 revolution. These changes can be categorised into political, economic and social modifications.
Alexander III made a few political modifications to the Tsarist government. In 1851, he introduced Land Captains. These meant that people, sometimes locals, could be appointed to have more power over the people within their towns or cities, meaning power was seemingly being more wide spread. However, these lands captains were chosen by the Tsar himself, meaning he could manipulate who had extra power based on what he wanted. Therefore, some could argue that this was a negative modification made to the government. Alexander III also introduced the Manifesto of Unshakeable Autocracy in 1881. This showed the Tsars rejection of democracy and further reform, meaning he had further influence and power over everyone else. He also introduced the Statue of State Security in 1881, which allowed for the Okhrana to have more powers. For example, the Okhrana was now able to break into people’s houses without reason or their consent, meaning the government had further control over the population of Russia. Although Alexander III’s political reforms were mostly bad, the introduction of the Land Captains meant that his power was in fact becoming more widespread amongst the population of Russia, and not all of Russia’s power was given to one person. Therefore, the political reforms made by Alexander III showed a slight modification the government during his reign.
Nicholas II also introduced several political reforms. These took place after the 1905 revolution. In 1905, Nicholas issued the October manifesto. This gave people a lot more freedom than they previously had. Freedom of speech, organisation and assembly was now made legal; allowing opposition groups to now be able to be more organised as they were allowed to meet in public. Nicholas also introduced the fundamental laws in 1906, which allowed for the government to become more democratic. Under the fundamental laws, Article 87 was introduced, giving the Tsar the complete right to exercise any policy that he wished, without having to gain permission from the Dumas beforehand. The first State Duma was also introduced under Nicholas II in April 1906, which allowed for the population of Russia to have more of a say in the governments decisions. It was believed that the Duma was a step forwards towards a democracy for Russia; however, the Tsar could change and manipulate the Dumas in whatever way he wished through the use of Article 87, mean they were only put in place to make Russia seem more democratic when in reality it was not. Nicholas II also introduced a pro-government terrorist group called the Black Hundreds in 1905, meaning the government had further control over Russia as they were willing to use violence to get what they wanted. All of these new policies introduced by Nicholas seemed like positive reforms, however Article 87 meant that the Tsar could still pass laws and policies without consulting the Dumas beforehand, so really the Tsar and his power still heavily remained in Russia. The modifications made by Nicholas II throughout the years of his reign drastically changed the Tsarist government, showing the fact that Nicholas’ modifications greatly impacted the Tsarist government.
Both of the Tsars between the years 1881-1914 also introduced a range of economic reforms. Under Alexander III were Witte, Bunge and Vysknegradsky. Witte made several economic reforms, including the building...
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