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Russia -- History. Soviet Union -- History. Russia Federation -- History -- Includes bibliographical references p. Request It. Add to My List. France, Britain and Austria tried to intervene in the crisis but were unable to do so. The Russian patriotic press used the Polish uprising to unify the Russian nation, claiming it was Russia's God-given mission to save Poland and the world.
Tsar Nicholas I reigned — lavished attention on his very large army; with a population of 60—70 million people, the army included a million men. They had outdated equipment and tactics, but the tsar, who dressed like a soldier and surrounded himself with officers, gloried in the victory over Napoleon in and took enormous pride in its smartness on parade.
The cavalry horses, for example, were only trained in parade formations, and did poorly in battle. The glitter and braid masked profound weaknesses that he did not see. He put generals in charge of most of his civilian agencies regardless of their qualifications. An agnostic who won fame in cavalry charges was made supervisor of Church affairs. The Army became the vehicle of upward social mobility for noble youths from non-Russian areas, such as Poland, the Baltic, Finland and Georgia.
On the other hand, many miscreants, petty criminals and undesirables were punished by local officials by enlisting them for life in the Army. The conscription system was highly unpopular with people, as was the practice of forcing peasants to house the soldiers for six months of the year. Curtiss finds that "The pedantry of Nicholas' military system, which stressed unthinking obedience and parade ground evolutions rather than combat training, produced ineffective commanders in time of war.
Finally the Crimean War at the end of his reign demonstrated to the world what no one had previously realized: Russia was militarily weak, technologically backward, and administratively incompetent.
Despite his grand ambitions toward the south and Ottoman Empire, Russia had not built its railroad network in that direction, and communications were bad. The bureaucracy was riddled with graft, corruption and inefficiency and was unprepared for war.
The Navy was weak and technologically backward; the Army, although very large, was good only for parades, suffered from colonels who pocketed their men's pay, poor morale, and was even more out of touch with the latest technology as developed by Britain and France. As Fuller notes, "Russia had been beaten on the Crimean peninsula, and the military feared that it would inevitably be beaten again unless steps were taken to surmount its military weakness. As Western Europe modernized, after the issue for Russia became one of direction.
Some favored imitating Europe while others renounced the West and called for a return of the traditions of the past. The latter path was championed by Slavophiles , who heaped scorn on the "decadent" West. The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy and preferred the collectivism of the medieval Russian mir , or village community , to the individualism of the West. Since the war against Napoleon, Russia had become deeply involved in the affairs of Europe, as part of the "Holy Alliance.
Prussia, Austria, Britain and France the other members of the alliance lacked large armies and needed Russia to supply the required numbers, which fit the philosophy of Nicholas I.
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When the Revolutions of swept Europe, however, Russia was quiet. The Tsar sent his army into Hungary in at the request of the Austrian Empire and broke the revolt there, while preventing its spread to Russian Poland. The Tsar cracked down on any signs of internal unrest. Russia expected that in exchange for supplying the troops to be the policeman of Europe, it should have a free hand in dealing with the decaying Ottoman Empire—the "sick man of Europe.
The History of Russia, 2nd Edition (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
In this setting Michael Bakunin would emerge as the father of anarchism. He left Russia in to Western Europe, where he became active in the socialist movement. After participating in the May Uprising in Dresden of , he was handed over to Russia and sent to Siberia. He escaped in , then began to organize. He argued with Karl Marx over socialism.
Marx won and had Bakunin and the anarchists expelled from the First International in He died in obscurity but other anarchists took up the torch, especially Russian radicals such as Alexander Herzen and Peter Kropotkin. Tsar Nicholas died with his philosophy in dispute. One year earlier, Russia had become involved in the Crimean War , a conflict fought primarily in the Crimean peninsula. When Alexander II came to the throne in , desire for reform was widespread. The most pressing problem confronting the Government was serfdom. In , there were 23 million serfs out of a total population of The freed peasants had to buy land, allotted to them, from the landowners with the state assistance.
All the land turned over to the peasants was owned collectively by the mir , the village community, which divided the land among the peasants and supervised the various holdings. Alexander was the most successful Russian reformer since Peter the Great , and was responsible for numerous reforms besides abolishing serfdom. He reorganized the judicial system , setting up elected local judges, abolishing capital punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some of the privileges of the nobility, and promoting the universities.
In foreign policy, he sold Alaska to the United States in , fearing the remote colony would fall into British hands if there was another war. He modernized the military command system. Faced with an uprising in Poland in , he stripped that land of its separate Constitution and incorporated it directly into Russia. To counter the rise of a revolutionary and anarchistic movements, he sent thousands of dissidents into exile in Siberia and was proposing additional parliamentary reforms when he was assassinated in In the late s Russia and the Ottoman Empire again clashed in the Balkans.
The Russo-Turkish War was popular among the Russian people, who supported the independence of their fellow Orthodox Slavs, the Serbs and the Bulgarians. However, the war increased tension with Austria-Hungary, which also had ambitions in the region. The tsar was disappointed by the results of the Congress of Berlin in , but abided by the agreement. In the s a movement known as Nihilism developed in Russia.
A term originally coined by Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons , Nihilists favoured the destruction of human institutions and laws, based on the assumption that such institutions and laws are artificial and corrupt. At its core, Russian nihilism was characterized by the belief that the world lacks comprehensible meaning, objective truth, or value.
The History of Russia, 2nd Edition
For some time many Russian liberals had been dissatisfied by what they regarded as the empty discussions of the intelligentsia. The Nihilists questioned all old values and shocked the Russian establishment.
Their path was facilitated by the previous actions of the Decembrists, who revolted in , and the financial and political hardship caused by the Crimean War, which caused large numbers of Russian people to lose faith in political institutions. The Nihilists first attempted to convert the aristocracy to the cause of reform. Their campaign, which targeted the people instead of the aristocracy or the landed gentry, became known as the Populist movement.
It was based upon the belief that the common people possessed the wisdom and peaceful ability to lead the nation. While the Narodnik movement was gaining momentum, the government quickly moved to extirpate it. In response to the growing reaction of the government, a radical branch of the Narodniks advocated and practiced terrorism.
This represented the ascendancy of anarchism in Russia as a powerful revolutionary force. Finally, after several attempts, Alexander II was assassinated by anarchists in , on the very day he had approved a proposal to call a representative assembly to consider new reforms in addition to the abolition of serfdom designed to ameliorate revolutionary demands. Unlike his father, the new tsar Alexander III — was throughout his reign a staunch reactionary who revived the maxim of " Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and National Character ". In his reign Russia concluded the union with republican France to contain the growing power of Germany, completed the conquest of Central Asia, and exacted important territorial and commercial concessions from China.
He taught his royal pupils to fear freedom of speech and press and to hate democracy, constitutions, and the parliamentary system. Alexander was succeeded by his son Nicholas II — The Industrial Revolution, which began to exert a significant influence in Russia, was meanwhile creating forces that would finally overthrow the tsar.
Politically, these opposition forces organized into three competing parties: The liberal elements among the industrial capitalists and nobility, who believed in peaceful social reform and a constitutional monarchy, founded the Constitutional Democratic party or Kadets in Followers of the Narodnik tradition established the Socialist-Revolutionary Party or Esers in , advocating the distribution of land among those who actually worked it—the peasants.
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Gathering their support from the radical intellectuals and the urban working class, they advocated complete social, economic and political revolution. The Mensheviks believed that Russian socialism would grow gradually and peacefully and that the tsar's regime should be succeeded by a democratic republic in which the socialists would cooperate with the liberal bourgeois parties. The Bolsheviks advocated the formation of a small elite of professional revolutionists, subject to strong party discipline, to act as the vanguard of the proletariat in order to seize power by force.
The disastrous performance of the Russian armed forces in the Russo-Japanese War was a major blow to the Russian State and increased the potential for unrest. In January , an incident known as " Bloody Sunday " occurred when Father Gapon led an enormous crowd to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg to present a petition to the tsar.
When the procession reached the palace, Cossacks opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds. This marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of Soviets councils of workers appeared in most cities to direct revolutionary activity. In October , Nicholas reluctantly issued the October Manifesto , which conceded the creation of a national Duma legislature to be called without delay. The moderate groups were satisfied;  but the socialists rejected the concessions as insufficient and tried to organize new strikes.