The Tzar abdicated following the revolution of 1917 but he did not abdicate after the 1905 revolution. There were a number of key factors which made this happen, in this essay I will be looking into the similarities and the differences. During both revolutions the people went on strike over poor working conditions and poor pay, but there were differences and these were the factors that determined the survival and the fall of the Tzar. Russia had many difficulties for a ruler.
The size of Russia is incredible, 17,075,400 square kilometers of land, however there was only one railway across the country so much of the country was unreachable and passing a message on was very difficult. In addition Tsar Nicholas was a weak and unpopular ruler, having been passed down his status as absolute monarch and not having to work for it. His popularity was worsened by the fact that his family lived in great wealth and yet there was terrible poverty across most of the population.
February 1904, a war broke out between Russia and Japan which became known as the Russo-Japanese war. This war was over a town called Manchuria situated in Northern China. Manchuria was home to the only dock on the eastern coast which did not freeze during the winter months. This made it tactically important to Russia’s navy. Russia badly lost this war even though they were seen as the more powerful country and the Tzar was advised to pull out of Manchuria.
At first he did not listen to this advice because he did not want to be seen as a weak ruler and admitting defeat would prove this but as the situation got worse on the other side of the continent he realized that he needed the army to help him control the winter Palace protests, and therefore he was forced to admit defeat in China. Ultimately he was able to control the revolution in 1905 and his position wasn’t threatened. But in 19 17 Russia was losing the First World War.
This was much worse than any war they had previously been in, Russia’s land and was being threatened and the Russian population was forced to move. As most of Russia’s population was in the west of the country this war affected most of the population so people knew what was happening unlike the previous Russo-Japanese war. Secondly the Tzar’s reputation as ruler was worsened because of the strength of their opposition. Austria Hungary and Germany had many fixed machine gun posts and a very strong leader in Field Marshal Von Hindenburg.
Germany was much stronger than Japan in 1905. In many places the Russian army didn’t have a rifle for every person they started using very suicidal tactics of lining up with only the front person holding a rifle, then when he was killed the next person in the line would pick the rifle up and start shooting again. However in 1903 The War was a long way away from the population and the public didn’t know what was happening so it didn’t affect the Tzar’s reputation, as it did in 1905 Also in 1917 the Tzar had left his home in St.
Petersburg and gone to live near the front line, leaving his German wife Keisarinna Aleksandra in charge of Russia. This was a very bad move. Aleksandra was hated as she was seen as a German spy. Under her leadership there was a mass shortage of food as all the supplies were going to the front line to feed the soldiers. Further weakening The Tzar’s Reputation compared to 1905. Russian factory workers worked extremely long hours including Saturdays and conditions in the factories were extremely harsh.
There was little concern shown for the workers and their health. Workers tried to form trade unions, but they were dismissed by the factory owners who had total power over their employees. Then in 1903, a Priest formed the Assembly of Russian Workers and within a year it had over 9,000 members. In 1904 prices of essential goods rose immensely, and therefore effectively wages fell by 20 per cent. The Priest wasn’t happy that nothing was improving and so called for industrial action. Over the next few days over 110,000 workers in St.
Petersburg went out on strike, in an attempt to settle the dispute, the priest decided to make a personal appeal to Tzar Nicholas II. The Tzar accepted this appeal and he shortened the working day by a couple of hours and also agreed to an increase in wages and an improvement in working conditions. However these changes were not enough therefore over 150,000 people signed a petition and on 22nd January, 1905, the priest led a large procession of workers to the Winter Palace in order to present the petition to Tzar Nicholas II.
When the procession of workers reached the Winter Palace it was attacked by the special police and more than 100 workers were killed and some 300 wounded. The incident, known as Bloody Sunday and signaled the start of the 1905 Revolution ruining the rest of the Tzar’s reputation and infuriating the workers even more. However in 1917 taxes went up further to support the soldiers, but the peasants couldn’t pay these which meant they had to pay by using grain. Therefore there was no food and poverty was spreading across the country and eventually the army had no food.
When the war started all the peasants thought it would be really fun to join the army as they would be getting uniforms and would be able to travel to places they wouldn’t before. But three years later there had been a big change in attitude as the peasants realized joining the army was a mistake and those that hadn’t been killed by the Germans already started to pullout strengthening the protests. Also in 1917 the poverty was much worse, 80% of Russia’s population was peasants and 50% of children would not live past the age of five.
Taxes were rising constantly and this was making the poverty worse, the peasants wanted to stop this so they started protesting. All the peasants and workers started organizing protests but after the failure of the peaceful protests in 1905 they had no choice but to fight back this time. These were a lot bigger and better organized than last time and in 1917 the special police was part of the protests so the Tzar had no one to protect him. This was made worse by Russia’s involvement in the First World War.
These two situations were basically the same because in both Russia were losing a war and there were riots because of poverty. However in 1917 the war was on their land so if they had pulled out like in Manchuria they would have lost their land and their people would have to abandon their homes as most of the Russians lived in west Russia. Also in this war the Tzar’s weakness was very obvious as Germany were much stronger than Japan. Germany was ready for a war whereas Russia didn’t have anywhere near enough supplies, rifles or ammunition.
Also the protests had stepped up a level, the workers and peasants realized that the peaceful protest weren’t going to work so they stated violent protests and these were a lot more affective. In conclusion I think it was the three differences Being that he had he a worsened reputation, the situation in the war was far worse and the main point is that The Protests had got more organized and they were now violent not peaceful. This is what made the Tzar abdicate from his position of absolute ruler on 15th March 1917 when in 1905 the situation had not escalated as much enabling the Tzar to continue.