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Downfall Of The Tsarist Regime

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Published: Wed, 03 May 2017

Tsar Nicholas II was unprepared for the role as tsar and lacked the personal characteristics that were needed to rule Russia subsequently being a major factor that influenced the people decisions and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. Tsar Nicholas continued to implement the social and political reforms instituted by his father Alexander III which were unpopular with all members of society; the peasants, proletariat, bourgeoisie and nobility. This may have been due to the fact that Tsar Nicholas II had received little training in the affairs of Russia and how to run Russia on his own because his father Alexander III believed Nicholas was ‘still absolutely a child, with infantile judgements’. Partly due to his lack of political awareness the tsar was uneducated Nicholas continued the repression of the opposition and minority groups for example the Jewish pogroms of the late 19th century. Marriage to Alexandra caused many of the decisions made by Nicholas to be influenced by Alexandra. The tsar was weak and indecisive however Alexandra was politically and socially inept dominating Nicholas and being responsible for many of the inappropriate decisions made such as being an enthusiastic advocate in the tsars divine right to rule and her belief that it was unnecessary to attempt to secure the approval of the people as it was more important to return Russia to pure autocratic rule. It has been noted by many historians notably J.N. Westwood that tsar Nicholas cared for his family and his personal characteristics allowed him to be kind and considerate to the his family “family happiness has never yet saved the dynasty”. Following on from this Nicholas did not have an active interest in the business area as evidenced by his decision to repress the Jews in the early 1900s who were noted for their business acumen and were known to stimulate economies in other European countries. Nicholas the second sought advice from individuals who he like not those who were politically and economically astute such as Sergei Witte the prime minister and issuer of the October manifesto.

Another event that influenced the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was the Russo-Japanese war. In Russia before the war there were revolutionary ideas beginning to influence the people. The aim of the war to induce patriotism within the Russian people and subdue the revolutionaries; As Plheve, Minister of interior stated “we need a little victorious war to stem the tide of the revolution”. Russia was humiliatingly defeated in the Russo-Japanese war with the most humiliating defeat at Tsushima bay when 24 out of the 27 Russian naval boats were sunk. The failure of the war increased the unrest within Russia and the initial aim to induce patriotism had failed. All levels of society were affected by the war. The many peasants who worked on agrocultiaal farms were conscripts within the war which led to food shortages within the cities and countryside. This increased the Russian peoples dissatisfaction with the tsar and further erased the myth of supremacy started after the defeat in the Crimean war. The increased unrest following the defeat in the war was one of the major factors leading to the 1905 revolution and eventually the downfall of the Romanov regime.

The combination of the war and dissatisfaction of the proletariat led to a crucial turning point of the downfall of the Romanov regime. This was a protest march known as bloody Sunday. This march led by Father Gapon and 130,000 workers of the proletariat aimed to ask the tsar to in act reforms such as universal voting, 8 hour working days and better working conditions of the proletariat. The mood of the protestors and the tone of the petition appears to be one that whilst pleading the tsar to solve their difficulties involving this exploitation was one of love and kindness as in an extract of the petition father Gapon states “sire. Stand before the people and accept our humblest petition. I and my comrades guarantee the safety of thy person”. This belief and confidence in the tsar lasted a relatively short period as troops opened fire on the crowd. The fact that Nicholas the 2nd was not in the winter palace nor had ordered the Cossacks to open fire mattered little as his image and popularity diminished further. This event was the catalyst for more unrest in the towns and countryside throughout Russia and shows just how unprepared not only the tsar but the Cossacks were in quellers dissatisfaction. Following the events of bloody Sunday the 1905 revolution subsequently occurred. There were revolts against landowners by the peasants, 1/3 of the army had mutinies and thousands strikes throughout the empire. The Russian empire was slowly deteriorating and the events of bloody Sunday and the 1905 revolution that followed was a major factor that hurt the Romanov dynasty’s image and eventually the regime itself.

As a result Tsar Nicholas the 2nd reluctantly introduced the October manifesto following pressure from the Prime Minister Sergei Witte In order to meet the demands of the people to try and quell the downfall of the Romanov regime. The October manifest offered civil rights and a constitutional assessmebly known as the duma. The response to the October manifesto were varied. The bourgeoisie and Cadets saw the laws as a promising start to the constitutional monarchy of Russia. The political groups on the extreme left and right saw the manifesto as a ploy to regroup the autocracy and were a way to distract the Russian people. In preparation for the opening of the first duma in 1906 the tsar issued the fundamental laws. These laws severely restricted the power of the duma allowing the tsar to have the final say on things regarding foreign affairs and the power to overrule decisions in emergencies. This decision of the tsar to create the fundamental laws shows that the tsar had never the intention of completely get rid of the Autocratic rule and he wanted to control and higher power as he wrote to Alexandra in a letter “I have constitution in my head, but as to my heart, I spit on it”. The response to the fundamental laws on the other strikes and protests throughout the main cities of Russia. This was a backward step for Russia and was one of the many contributing factors that led to the downfall of the Romanov regime.

Throughout the period of 1906 onwards the dumas met four times. Each time being dissolved in short periods of time due to the tsar’s resistance to change. The failure of the four dumas saw the Romanov dynasty decline.After the issuing of the October manifesto Sergei Witte the primeminister invoved in convincing the Tsar was fired as the tsar believed he undermined his rule. This led to the Pytor Stolypin being appointed prime minister. THe aim of Pytor Stolypin was to provide a balance between the introduction of much needed land reforms and the suppression of the radicals. The 3rd Duma consisted of mainly moderate octobrists which meant that many of the laws passed during this time diminished the rights of the proletariat and the peasants and only pleased the nobility due to the fact is they were the eons with the power. The degrading of the rights for the peasants and the proletariat such they being forbidden to vote caused upheaval within the workingclass and peasantry areas of society. This led to increased strikes and unrest. Pytor Stolypin of assassinated in 1911 due to the unrest and dissatidsfaction of the policies in which the dumas had issued. The tsar wsa oblivious to the concerns this would have made for the Russian empire and dynasty. Therefore the failure of the tsar’s Dumas to create satisfaction among the lower clas (the peasantry and the proletariat) led to the downfall of the Russian empire and tsarist regime.

Overall the combination of events and features within the events that contributed to the downfall were astonishing. Many of the events such as the Russo-Japanese war, the failure of the Duma, the 1905 revolution and the failure to please the Russian public are all linked back to Tsar Nicholas II decisions. THe accumulation of the events over the years of Tsar Nicholas II reign eventually in the long term led to the fall of the Romanov Empire and the tsarist regime.


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