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Chapter 22 Section 5
Transcript of Chapter 22 Section 5
By 1815 the Russian empire was enormous. Since the 1600's Russian fur trappers, explorers, and soldiers had expanded out across Eurasia vastly expanding Russian influence and power. Czars and Czarinas had expanded territory as well in an effort to reach warm water ports and check the growth of other empires.
Throughout this period the rest of Europe looked upon Russia with both fear and respect. The country was wealthy with natural resources and a large army, however the country was economically backward compared to the rest of Europe. The Russian government was also outdated and still ruled by absolute monarchs who persecuted citizens who dared to speak out against them. By the 1800's even these absolute monarchs realized the country needed to modernize and reform but feared doing so because it could jeopardize their power.
Conditions in Russia
An obstacle to progress was Russia's social class structure. Under the Russian system rich land owning nobles dominated society and politics and worked against reforms that could reduce their influence. The middle class was almost nonexistent, and the lower class was made up of serfs. Most Russians were serfs, bound to the land and controlled by landowning nobles.
Some in Russia criticized serfdom as working against the Russian economy, however most nobles were not inclined to change the system in any way. Some nobles would send their serfs to work in newly created factories but collected most of their pay so that it never really helped to stimulate the economy.
Emancipation breeds revolution
Czar Alexander II came to the throne in 1855 during the Crimean War. This war in which Russia was opposed by the Ottoman Empire, the British, and the French ended in a Russian defeat. It also proved to many within Russia just how backward their country was. With just a few miles of railroad and and outdated and inefficient army Russia had become weak.
Following Russian humiliation a popular reaction occurred in which many university students and liberals within the government began protesting seeking government reforms. Finally, Alexander II granted some reform in 1861 when he required the emancipation of all serfs. Many of these now free serfs could not afford their own farms and instead moved to cities to work in factories which helped to boost the Russian economy.
Introducing other reforms
Persecution and Pogroms
In response to his father's assassination Alexander III turned to harsh methods to wipe out those that could oppose him. He used secret police, exile, torture, and executions to suppress his people. He also set about reducing ethnic influences throughout Russia by making Russian the only official language, and the Russian Orthodox church the only religion. As a result different religions and ethnic groups were targeted for persecution.
The Jews were particular targets of the czar due to the numbers of them living in the areas of what would later become Poland and Ukraine. The government restricted where Jews could live, what professions they could enter and the number of them allowed to attend universities. These practices only increased anti-jewish feelings in Russia leading to pogroms (mob violence against jews such as beatings or lynchings). It was this increasing violence that led many Jews to leave Russia, many of them came to the U.S.
Russo-Japanese War, Bloody Sunday, Revolution of 1905
October Manifesto, Duma, Nicholas's response, World War 1