Why Did The Tsarist Autocracy Collapse In 1917?

the tsarist autocracy collapse in 1917

Nicholas II wasn’t ready to lead in 1894 because he’d watched his grandfather’s assassination in 1881. Nicholas was weak-willed and didn’t want to be tsar, but he and Alexandra were religious and believed they were chosen by God.

Intelligent, bold, and religious, he lacked political understanding. Nicky had military training. He wasn’t trained to be a statesman.

 He was a committed husband and father who was well-liked by his people, but he didn’t care what happened to Russia and didn’t rule the country, which reduced him.

Even though he was a good parent, he was sad because his only kid, Alexis, had haemophile and could die young, eliminating him from power.

He was ignorant and wouldn’t delegate. Even if he didn’t trust most of his ministers, he couldn’t lead Russia alone.

At first, the peasants hoped he would continue his grandfather’s reforms, liberating servants, relaxing press restrictions, improving military conditions, altering education, and introducing Zemstva, locally elected councils.

He crippled the administration and was the “invisible” Tsar since he never travelled, thus he couldn’t grasp what was best for his citizens. Due to Russia’s size and diversity of nationalities and beliefs, it was difficult for people to converse and travel.

the tsarist autocracy collapse in 1917

Too many labourers and peasants (82%) were destitute and lacked legal safeguards, while nobles had everything. Because he couldn’t travel, the tsar was helpless to stop revolutions. The population doubted his ability to lead Russia and plotted his ouster.

Regardless of the dynasty’s future, the current Tsar will never feel comfortable among his people. Russians no longer respect their leader. He appeared weak and careless. Political opposition contributed to the tsarist monarchy’s demise.  

Many favoured the Tsar’s overthrow. Octobrists and Kadets were calmer. Middle-class Kadets supported an elected legislature. Rich, well-educated individuals in the towns supported them, but it wasn’t enough, and they failed to recruit peasants and labourers, who were the majority.

Socialists and socialists wanted revolution. Both parties pledged to work with liberals as long as they pushed for democracy and parliamentary governance.

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Peasants supported social revolutionaries who wanted to give them land to improve their lives and make them happier, but the nation’s immensity and peasants’ illiteracy made the revolution difficult.

Their revolution failed due to their differing goals and techniques; some desired land sharing, others communism. Lenin and Trotsky were Social Democrats and committed to communist ideology. They wanted to destroy the government but disagreed how.

Mensheviks desired to organise a large group, including the middle class, whereas Bolsheviks preferred a smaller group. “We Bolsheviks won’t bail”.

This showed the masses that the Tsar’s authority must be problematic if so, many people wanted change. 1905 upheavals allowed the opposition to show the Tsar how many people wanted change and how unsuitable he was to rule.

The Tsar attacked 200,000 workers who marched to him for help because he feared for his life. Maybe he knew he was a bad Tsar and thought he’d be killed like his grandpa. Bloody Sunday sparked everything.

Tsar Nicholas II, showing him at Tsarskoye Selo after his abdication in March 1917

Father Gapon petitioned for change peacefully. People questioned the Tsar’s concern for his subjects. The government borrowed money, military violence continued, taxes for the poorest grew, and working and living conditions were dreadful.

Economic worries fuelled the revolt. The Tsar thought war was a good idea, but he lost favour because people thought he couldn’t rule, and Russia was humiliated and beaten. Prices rose, stores ran out of goods, and industries closed, leaving people jobless and hungry.

Women stole bread shops and smashed stores. I think this best describes the revolution’s streets. Because everyone loathed the tsar and thought he couldn’t govern, the tsarist regime weakened.

The Tsarist regime fell due to peasants and workers. The Orthodox Church believed that the Tsar was a father figure, and devoted people held factory and landlord owners responsible.

People hoped Russia would change when Nicholas was crowned. Peasants and labourers soon realized the Tsar didn’t care about them, but they still had hope. The workers had no privacy, were overworked, and underpaid.

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30 people were crowded into a single room, and industries paid terrible wages. Working meant improving their life and feeding their families, especially children. Both labourers and peasants had short lifespans and ate cheap, bad food.

Due to a scarcity of land, 4/5 of the population had to labour in factories. Infuriated, they blamed the Tsar. Manufacturers can use overtime despite their low compensation and lengthy hours.

Outraged, people “organised protests” Once peasants and workers started protesting, everyone would join them. When Father Gapon started a petition to “Support your people,” many employees signed it.

Reduce the distance between you and your people. He easily rallied 200,000 people to march with him to the Tsar, but the Tsar felt threatened and executed most of them. Soldiers fired nonstop.

Peasants didn’t give up on demanding their own land, so when the Tsar promised it after the 1905 revolution, they stopped protesting and were overpowered, but a year later he took it away, which was a terrible error as it proved he didn’t care about his people and was another cause to get rid of him.

Enraged Russians hated the Tsar. Nicholas II’s government was damaged because he expanded the wall. The Tsarist system fell after World War I. Bad harvests, poor transportation, and German annexation of fertile farmland caused a food scarcity in Russia.

According to historians, “population growth, antiquated farming methods, and inept policymaking caused a disaster.” The Tsar left Russia to lead the fight. His selections showed he was out-of-touch. Due to the poor quality of Russian firearms, soldiers had to wait until someone died before using their weapon in combat.

“Three days of heavy fighting might deplete our ammunition.” As the army’s backing faded, the Tsar had to take responsibility for his shortcomings as the troops blamed him for their suffering.

He couldn’t blame subordinates for defeats. Peasants dominated the army, destroying their image of the wise and caring Tsar. Alexandra refused to accept her middle-class allies’ advice after the Tsar left her in charge of Russia.

Alexander “was the dominant personality” because she refused to distribute authority like the Tsar. The patriotic population got irritated with the tsarina’s incompetence and wanted someone else. St. Petersburg was renamed Petrograd because it sounded too German.

Being German made the Tsarina more hated. She was rumoured to be a German spy attempting to win the war and undermine Russia. Rasputin gained power over the Tsarina because he treated Alexis.

Their scandals furthered the Tsarina’s disfavour. They were accused of having an affair and being German spies. Rasputin relayed Alexandra’s divine instructions, which she used to make decisions.

People worried he’d end the nation. Rasputin was a peasant, but he helped run the country, which outraged the Russians, who couldn’t understand why. Others questioned the Tsar’s decision to let Rasputin stay so near to the royal family, adding, “I knew he was hypnotic.”

When Rasputin was slain in December 1916 by envious aristocrats, the Tsarist dynasty was weakened and eventually collapsed because it was too late to save the royal family’s prestige with the Russian people.

Personality was the Tsar’s biggest flaw. If he had listened to his ministers, he might not have made as many mistakes as during the Russo-Japanese War or Bloody Sunday, which led to the 1905 Revolution.

Peasants and workers would have backed him if he’d raised their pay, given them land, and continued his grandfather’s work.

Traveling and being popular would preclude political opposition, maintaining Russian stability and his strength as Tsar. If he hadn’t been so focused on himself and his family, Tsarist reign would have been effective and the Russian people would have been happy.

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I'm a 4th Year student of Architecture Undergraduate programme at Priyadarshini Institute of Architecture And Design Studies, Nagpur. During my studies, I have worked on multiple projects and these assignments have helped me to become a great team player and how to function well in fast paced and deadline driven environments. Some of interests are Sketching, listening and exploring old music, watching documentaries and being an architectural student I like to explore the conceptual angle of every element.

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