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Russia and its rulers, 1855-1964

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on 18 October 2016

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Transcript of Russia and its rulers, 1855-1964

Russia and its rulers, 1855-1964
The Rulers
Alexander II, 1855-1881
Alexander III, 1881-1894
Nicholas II, 1894-1917
Provisional Government, Feb-Oct 1917
Lenin, 1917-1924
Stalin, 1928-1953
Khrushchev, 1953- 1964
Russian Geography
Russia was a vast Empire covering almost one sixth of the earth's land mass
Around 200 nationalities
Frontiers extended 6000 miles from Vladivostok on the Pacific coast to Russo-German frontier in the west and 3000 miles from the Arctic Sea to the Persian frontier in the south
Mostly one large open plain - occupied 2/3 of Russia
Parts of south and central Russia were very fertile but in other areas soil was barren
Rich natural resources of iron ore, coal, oil and other minerals but lagged far behind other European nations in making use of resources
Russian Society
In mid 19th C, Russia was a country of long-established traditions - backwards by European standards
Sparsely populated - 94% of population living in small isolated villages - farming
1840; ratio of villagers to townspeople was 11:1 - was 2:1 in England
Population grew from 45.6 million in 1800 to 69 million in 1851 and 125 million by 1900
St Petersburg was largest town - followed by Moscow
Social Structure
Hierarchical - nobility enjoyed extensive privileges such as tax exemption
1858; approx 1 million nobles - 247,000 hereditary nobles
Wide variation in ranks of nobility - landowners wealth measured in serfs
1858/9 census showed 90,000 serf owners - 18,500 owned more than 100 serfs ('souls')
Ruling elite - schemed for court position and dominated the army/guard regiments of palaces and top bureaucratic positions
Ever increasing number of lower ranking nobles worked as government officials - growing professionalism
Middle class had a minor role due to lack of industrialisation - included intelligentsia/merchants/shopkeepers - some very wealthy but held no political power and could not own serfs
Focus on
continuity, development and change
across extended period
Evaluation of interpretations focusing on validity
Essays will focus on making
between different aspects of the topics and of testing hypotheses before reaching a judgement

The nature of government
The impact of dictatorial regimes on the economy and society of the Russian Empire and the USSR
Impact of war and revolution on the development of the Russian Empire and the USSR
Russia; Empire, nationalities and satellite states

Interpretations topics
Alexander II's domestic reforms
The Provisional Government
Khrushchev in power 1956-1964
The Empire comprised of different nationalities, cultures and religions - some were primitive tribesmen living in remote isolation - over 50% not ethnic Russian - about 20-25 million Muslim - about 5 million Jews, who suffered discrimination
Cossacks - most loyal and ruthless supporters of Empire - excellent fighters - from Ukraine
Nationalism became an increasingly important issue - ie Poland where Russification attempts provoked rebellion
Background & Overview
Vast majority of productive population were peasants - few were free
Different types of serfs had differing circumstances but all owed feudal dues of some sort
Village community known as the 'Mir'
Economy based on agriculture - strong sense of community
Rich peasants, called Kulaks, often controlled Mir assembly
Life was hard - primitive and crowded home conditions - infant mortality was high
Famine - peasants were exposed to unpredictable rises/falls in harvest - in almost every year there was peasant unrest due to shortages. Droughts were also a problem
Industrial Workers
Not a clear cut group - included town labourers, but some of these were peasants sent to work in factories due to shortage of agricultural land
Population growth led to increased demand for goods and growth of labour force, however industry suffered from lack of money and skills
Labourers employed in mines - by beginning of 19th C, Russia was world leader of iron production
Industrial workers under control of the Tsar as industry was under governmental control
Workmen were ill treated and overworked - low pay, sometimes irregular wages and worked long hours - thousands escaped to Siberia
Nature of Tsardom
For 4 centuries the central state power of Russia had been personified in the Tsar - claimed unrestricted power
Strength of character and personality fundamental to success
Based on three principles - 'Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality'
Tsar had three main bodies to advise him, although he was an autocratic ruler with no legal or constitutional restraints on his power
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