AbstractAlong with the industrialization of industry in the social structure of Russia, new classes of capitalist society began to emerge, the political ambitions of the bourgeoisie and the social role of the working class were growing.
The nobles occupied key posts in central and local government bodies, owned a large land fund. The clergy did not pay taxes, did not carry military service; the church had considerable property (land and immovable property), the clergy ideologically served the autocracy and monitored the moral state of society. Thus, Russian society was scattered: highly educated strata – the intelligentsia, part of the landowners (in the minority) – were unable to overcome the cultural gap with the so-called “nation” (majority). The growing discontentment with the overall situation in the country and with the rule of Alexander II led to his assassination and later, as a result, to the Revolution.IntroductionRussia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was a massive empire stretching from Poland to the Pacific.
In 1914, the country was home to about one hundred sixty-five million people, representing a variety of languages, religions, and cultures. The decision on such a massive fortune was not an easy task, especially as long-term problems inside Russia undermined the Romanov monarchy. In 1917, this disintegration finally revolutionized the old system. Although the turning point of the revolution is the accepted world war, the revolution was not an inevitable by-product of war, and long-term causes are equally important.In 1916, full three-quarters of the Russian population consisted of peasants who lived and grew up in small villages. Theoretically, their life improved in 1861, before which they were serfs who belonged and could be bargained by their landowners (Shukman). In 1861, the serfs were released and released with a small amount of land, but in return, they needed to pay back the government a certain sum of money, and as a result, there were a lot of small farms that are in arrears. The state of agriculture in central Russia was poor (Shukman).
Standard farming methods were profoundly outdated, and there was little hope for the real progress due to widespread illiteracy and a lack of capital. Families lived just above the subsistence level, and about fifty percent had a member who left the village to find another job which often was in cities (Shukman). As the central Russian population grew, the land became meager. This way of life contrasted sharply with those rich landowners who held twenty percent of the land in large estates and often were members of the upper class of Russia. The western and southern massifs of the massive Russian Empire were somewhat different, with a large number of reasonably well-off peasants and large commercial farms (Shukman). The result by 1917 was the mass of dissatisfied peasants, angry at the intensified attempts to control them by people who profited from the land without working directly. The overwhelming majority of the peasants were firmly against the events outside the village and the desired autonomy.
Although the overwhelming majority of the Russian population were rural peasants and former urban peasants, the upper and middle classes knew little about real peasant life. Yet, they were familiar with myths: about earthly, angelic, pure communal life (Kochan). Legally, culturally, socially, peasants in more than half a million settlements were organized by centuries of community rule. The worlds, self-governing peasant communities, were separated from the elites and the middle class. However, it was not a joyful, legitimate commune; it was a desperate system of struggle that was fueled by the human weaknesses of rivalry, violence, and theft, and the elder patriarchs ruled everywhere. Among the peasants, a break in the deeply rooted culture of violence arose. The government of Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin for years before 1917 attacked the peasant concept of family property, a remarkable custom reinforced by centuries of folk tradition.
In central Russia, the peasant population grew, and the land fled so that all eyes were on the elites, which forced the borrowed peasants to sell land for commercial use (Kochan). More and more peasants went to cities searching for work. There they urbanized and adopted a new, more cosmopolitan outlook that often looked down upon the peasant lifestyle that they left behind. The cities were densely crowded, unplanned, poorly paid, dangerous and not regulated. The class was formed, unlike their bosses and elites, the new urban culture was formed (Kochan). When the freedom of labor of serfs disappeared, the old elites were forced to adapt to the capitalist industrial landscape of agriculture. As a result, the panicked elite class was forced to sell its land and, in turn, refused. Some, like Prince G.
Lvov (Russia’s first democratic prime minister), have found ways to continue their farming activities. Lvov became the leader of a zemstvo (local community), he built roads, schools hospitals, and other public resources (Kochan). Alexander III was afraid of zemstvos, calling them excessively liberal.
The government agreed and drafted new laws that tried to reel them (Kochan). Land captains were sent to ensure the tsarist rule and struggle against the liberals. This and other counter-reforms were conducted directly into the reformers and set the tone for the struggle which the King would not necessarily win.
The industrial revolution entered Russia mainly in the 1890s, with metallurgical plants, factories and related elements of the industrial society. Although the development was neither advanced nor fast, as in a country like Britain, the cities of Russia began to expand, and a large number of peasants moved to cities to take up new jobs. By the end of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these tightly packed and expanding urban areas were experiencing problems such as poor and close housing, unfair wages, and the shrinking rights of workers. The government is afraid of a developing urban class that is more afraid of pushing out foreign investment, supporting higher wages, and as a result, there was a lack of legislation on behalf of workers. These workers quickly began to become more politically involved and bullying against government restrictions on their protests (Kochan). This issue created a fertile ground for the socialist revolutionaries, who moved between the cities and expelled to Siberia. To try to resist the spread of antisaurist ideology, the government formed legitimate, but sterilized unions to replace banned but powerful equivalents. In 1905 and 1917 a significant role was played by highly politicized socialist workers, although under the aegis of “socialism” there were many different factions and convictions.
Russia was ruled by the emperor, called the Tsar, and for three centuries this position belonged to the Romanov family. 300-year celebrations marked 1913 in a huge festival of splendor, entertainment, social class, and expenses (This Day in History). Few people knew that the end of the Romanov government was so close, but the festival was intended to ensure the representation of the Romanovs as personal rulers. Everybody deceived the Romanovs themselves. They ruled alone without true representative bodies: Tsar could ignore even the Duma that was created in 1905, whenever he wanted it, and he did it. The freedom of the expression was limited to the censorship of books and newspapers, while the secret police acted to suppress dissent, often either executing people or sending them to exile in Siberia (This Day in History). The result was an autocratic regime in which Republicans, Revolutionaries, Democrats, Socialists and others increasingly desperately needed reforms, but was incredibly fragmented.
Some wanted violent changes, others – peaceful, but as opposition against the Tsar was banned, the opponents increasingly resorted to more radical measures. In the middle of the nineteenth century, under the rule of Tsar Alexander II, there was a strong reform – mainly a Western movement – in which the elite split between reform and fortification (This Day in History). The constitution was written when Alexander II was killed in 1881. Tsar Alexander II, ruler of Russia since 1855, was killed in the streets of St. Petersburg by a bomb thrown out by a member of the revolutionary group “Narodnaya Volya” (“People’s Will”). The people’s will, organized in 1879, used terrorism and murder in their attempt to overthrow the tsarist autocracy of Russia. They killed officials and committed several attempts on the life of the king before killing him on March 13, 1881 (This Day in History).
To describe everything more detailed, it must be mentioned that initially, the plans of the “People’s Will” included laying mines in St. Petersburg under the Stone Bridge, stretching across the Catherine Canal. However, soon they abandoned this idea and settled on another option – to lay a mine under the carriageway on Malaya Sadovaya.
If the mine did not suddenly work, the four Volunteers on the street should have thrown bombs into the Tsar’s carriage, and in case Alexander II was still alive, Zhelyabov would personally jump into the carriage and kill the king with a dagger (Montefiore). Not everything went smoothly during the preparation of the operation: a search was carried out in the “cheese shop” where the conspirators were gathering, then the arrests of important people’s volunteers began, among whom were Mikhailov, and at the end of February 1881 Zhelyabov himself (Montefiore). The arrest of the latter pushed the conspirators to the beginning of the action. After the arrest of Zhelyabov, the emperor was warned about the possibility of a new assassination attempt, but he reacted calmly to this, saying that he was under divine protection which had already allowed him to survive five attempts. March 1, 1881, Alexander II left the Winter Palace in Manezh, he was accompanied by a fairly small guard (in the conditions of a new assassination attempt) (Montefiore). After attending the divorce of the guard and drinking tea from his cousin, the emperor went back to the Winter Palace through the Catherine’s Canal. This turn of events completely broke the plans of the conspirators. In the current emergency, Perovskaya, who headed the organization after Zhelyabov’s arrest, hastily processes the details of the operation.
According to the new plan, four volunteers (Grinevitsky, Rysakov, Emelyanov, Mikhailov) took positions along the embankment of the Catherine Canal and waited for a signal (swinging the handkerchief) from Perovskaya, according to which bombs should be thrown into the Tsar’s carriage (Montefiore). When the Tsar’s carriage drove to the embankment, Sophia signaled, and Rysakov threw his bomb at the side of the Tsar’s carriage: there was an explosion, after a certain distance, the Tsar’s carriage stopped, and the emperor did not suffer again. Yet, the further supposed favorable plan for Alexander outcome was spoiled: instead of hastily leaving the place of the attempt, the king wished to see the captured criminal (Montefiore). When he approached Rysakov unnoticed by the guard, Grinevitsky threw a second bomb at the king’s feet. The blast wave threw Alexander II to the ground; blood was spilled from the shattered legs (Montefiore). Later, Grinevitsky died from the consequences of his bomb explosion in the prison hospital, moreover almost simultaneously with his victim. Sofia Perovskaya, who was trying to run, was caught by the police, and on April 3, 1881, she was hanged along with the main functionaries of the People’s Will (Zhelyabov, Kibalchich, Mikhaylov, Rysakov) on the Semyonovsky parade ground (Montefiore).
As Tsar, Alexander did much for Russia’s liberalization and modernization, including the abolition of serfdom in 1861. However, when his authority was challenged, he became repressive, and he vehemently opposed the movements for political reforms. Ironically, on the same day he was killed, he signed a proclamation – the so-called Loris-Melikov constitution – which would create two legislative commissions consisting of indirectly elected representatives.ConclusionThe son of Alexander II and his son, in turn (Nicholas II), reacted to the reform, not only stopping it but also began counter-reform of a centralized, autocratic government. The Tsar in 1917 – Nicholas II – was sometimes accused of lack of will to power. Some historians have concluded that this is not so; the problem was that Nicholas was determined to govern, having no idea or ability to control the autocracy properly. The fact that Nicholas’s answer to the crises facing the Russian regime – and his father’s answer – was to look back at the seventeenth century and try to revive the system of the late Middle Ages, instead of reforming and modernizing Russia, was a severe problem. It was a source of discontent which led to the Revolution.
Works CitedKochan, Lionel. “The Russian Revolution.” New York: Wayland (Publishers) Ltd., 1971. Web.
25 Jan. 2018.Shukman, Harold. “The Russian Revolution.” Great Britain: Guernsey Press Company Limited,1998. Web.
25 Jan. 2018.This Day in History. “Czar Alexander II assassinated,” 2010.
Web. 25 Jan. 2018.Wilde, Robert. “Causes of the Russian Revolution,” History & Culture, 2017. Web.
25 Jan. 2018.Montefiore, Simon Sebag. “The Romanovs:1613-1918.” New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 2016.Web. 25 Jan. 2018.