Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why did the Tsar fall from Power?

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The year 1917 was an extremely important date in Russian history. For hundreds of years Russia had been ruled under an autocracy but following several years of discontent and social unrest this all changed and the old Romanov dynasty was replaced with a new Russia of democracy and equality. There are a number of important reasons why the Tsar fell from power which I will now explain.

Firstly, Tsar Nicholas was not a very good ruler. This was not helped by the fact that he had a very large and difficult country to rule. Russia had very poor communication, a backward economy, many different types of people and barely used their natural resources. These only aided Nicholas’s poor ruling and added to the fact that all of the Tsar’s ministers worked separately rather than as a team, this meant that before the revolution, Russia was not in a very stable condition.

The Tsar made a huge mistake when he sacked the Grand Duke Nickolai and made himself Commander in Chief of the army. They were losing the war and he thought that the best way to boost morale would be for him to go to the front and assist the men in actually fighting the war. Unfortunately he was not very experienced in military matters and even though he was right in the middle of all the action and could see that Russia was losing; he still did not push for fighting reforms and more resources. He was also receiving a lot of advice form his wife, the Tsarina who was being influenced by Rasputin. He listened to her advice which would also have affected his decisions. This made the Tsar even more unpopular as they were now definitely losing the war as a result of his bad leadership. This caused the people to turn against him and he lost their support.

The role of the Tsar’s wife, Alexandra, also had a negative effect on the people’s support. This was mainly because she was a German and as the Russians were fighting the Germans they believed that she would not be loyal to them but to her native people. She handled the country very badly when her husband went to war and she was left in charge. She was very unsympathetic to the German people and stated that ‘The Russian people loved and needed the feel of the whip’. This, obviously would have infuriated the Russians and turned them against her. Also the fact that she was a woman would have annoyed the Russian people. This is because they would have been offended at the fact that they were leaving her in charge, as they would have thought of her as ‘second best’. She was also very strongly influenced by Rasputin and he affected nearly all of her decisions which in turn affected the Tsar. As most of the Russian people hated Rasputin (he was a womaniser and a drunk) they would not have liked the fact that the Tsar and Tsarina depended on him for so much advice. All these reasons would have contributed to the fact that the Tsar abdicated as all of his actions turned the Russian people against him and his leadership and essentially to his downfall.

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Rasputin was also a key player in Nicholas’s downfall. The Russian people loathed Rasputin. He was a womaniser and a drunk and the people hated the fact that their ruler was almost completely reliant on him foe advice and seemed incapable of making a decision without him. He was extremely religious which would have affected his advice and he may not have had the country’s best interests at heart. He was also not very capable of of giving useful advice as he had had little or no military training and as he was a monk he would not have properly understood everything that was happening in Russia. This led to the Tsar making extremely bad decisions which also turned the Russian people against him and he lost what little support and credibility he had.

The economy was in a terrible state and many workers were ready to riot due to the terrible conditions. Thousands of workers were going on strike, which mean that even less food and goods were being produced. Since the start of the war food was already being rationed due to the thousands of peasants who had enlisted and the fact that a large amount of the country’s budget was being spent on the war effort. Many factories closed because of the fuel shortage and as a result there was even less food. This led to much anger from the people and caused them to keep striking to show their anger against the Tsar and his leadership. In turn this led to many workers setting up trade unions and uniting to show their dislike of the current economical situation in Russia and attempting to do something about it.

After it became obvious that that Russia was doing very badly in the war, there was a collapse in support and no one really wanted to continue fighting. This was because the war was affecting their lives economically and socially and they were suffering very badly. Unfortunately the Tsar wanted to continue fighting as he believed that they could still win the war. This led to much unrest as the people felt that the Tsar wasn’t listening to them and that he wanted them to continue suffering.

The army was also in a very poor state and the mutinies would have affected the Tsar's popularity. Many soldiers (especially new recruits) were living in appalling conditions which turned them against the Tsar. All of the Tsars generals were working independently instead of as a team which would not have inspired the troops. The army was very dispirited and the Tsar would have found it very hard to rule and to fight a war without the army’s full backing. This also would have led to his abdication, as the army was very important in Russia.

Another important figure in the Tsars downfall was Stolypin- the Russian Prime Minister that Nicholas had just appointed. Although he meant well and was trying to improve Russia for the better, he failed and only succeeded in turning everyone against him and the Tsar. His reforms were widely rejected and his emergency field courts caused everyone to despise him, this would have weakened the Tsar’s position as instead of making the peasants loyal to the Tsar, they just hated him even more because of Stolypin’s punishment system.

The Tsars failure to co-operate with the Duma also helped to bring about his loss of political support. If he had co-operated with them then he would not have made such bad decisions such as leaving Alexandra in charge and listening to all of Rasputin’s advice. It also meant that he would have fulfilled part of the October manifesto which would have appeased the people. His failure to co-operate with them also left them unhappy. This led to them forming the Provisional committee which directly resulted in the Tsars abdication.

The collapse of the government in 1917 was one of the main reasons as to why Nicholas abdicated. The people wanted to replace his government because Tsar Nicholas was doing a terrible job of running the country and they wanted him replaced. He made appalling decisions which affected the whole country, and broke many promises of reform. The best example of this is the October Manifesto. This was created as a compromise and if it had been enforced then it would have prevented the Tsar’s abdication. The Tsar also didn’t listen to what his people wanted and so failed to help them in any way. At first although the people didn’t support the Tsar’s system, as time wore on they had no choice but to blame him, as he was the only one responsible.

Once the Provisional committee and the Soviet had been set up, the people realised that there was on alternative government that could work and so turned to that instead.

I believe that all of these reasons contributed to the Tsar’s fall from power in March 1917. However from the evidence I consider the most important to be the Tsar himself and his loss of support with the Russian people. This is because Tsar Nicholas effectively ruined the country. If Russia had had a strong, capable, sensible ruler then they probably would have been able to rescue Russia by listening to the people, properly responding and not being swayed by inappropriate people’s advice. The Tsar’s bad ruling and leadership (which I have explained earlier on) caused a complete loss of support with the Russian people- and in the end Nicholas’s own ministers- until he had no choice but to abdicate. If Russia had had a competent leader then they would have been able to retain the Russian peoples support and would probably have continued ruling even under different conditions.

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