1) The czars ruled over Russia for 300 years (the
‘Romanov Dynasty’, 1613-1917)… but the last
century of their rule was marked by social &
political unrest, with increasing revolutionary
- Army officers revolted in 1825 (the
‘Decemberists’), demanding a constitutional
monarchy, with an elected legislature (learned
from French soldiers 13 years earlier).
- Multiple revolutionary groups developed
through the 1800s, seeking to overthrow the
- Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.
2) The last four czars, and their openness to
Nicholas I  opposed
Alexander II  in favor (and was assassinated!)
Alexander III  opposed
Nicholas II  opposed
3) Most czars favored ‘AUTOCRACY’:
Any form of government in which ONE person
(OR party) has total political power.
Can be an absolute monarchy OR dictatorship
4) Alex III considered the following dangerous:
1. Anyone who questioned the absolute authority
of the czar (DISSIDENTS)
2. Anyone NOT Russian Orthodox Christian
3. Anyone who did not speak Russian as their first
language (i.e. any non-Russian ethnic group)
ALL were considered potential (or actual) sources
of revolutionary activity against the czar.
(consider: Alex II had been assassinated!)
5) Czar Alexander III used, harsh autocratic policies:
- strict censorship
- secret police
- teacher reports on student activity
(creates distrust, paranoia!)
- deportation to eastern Russia (Siberia) for
punishing hard labor
- outlawed non-Russian languages in schools
6) Religious group most persecuted: Jews
Victims of organized mob violence & destruction of
property… encouraged (or ignored) by the gov.
→ scapegoating (falsely blame them for
national problems)
→ small, vulnerable group = easy target
→ easily identified group in segregated
7) Russian industrialization…
Similarities w/ Western Europe, U.S. (or anywhere!):
- Government policies designed to encourage
industrial growth
- Terrible working conditions, early on
(i.e. unsafe, dirty, long hours, low pay, child labor)
- Government outlaws labor unions (so no
opportunity for improved conditions!)
- Workers sometimes responded w/ illegal strikes
Dissaffected working class (and peasants)
increasingly turned to violent, REVOLUTIONARY
activity, inspired by…
8) Karl Marx
(why was there NOT a similar Marxist revolutionary
reaction in Britain, the U.S., and Germany?)
9) Not all Russian Marxist revolutionaries agreed on
the GOALS and METHODS of revolution… they
would split into two factions:
Mensheviks  preferred a more moderate, gradual
approach in cultivating a broader and more
democratic base of popular support among
Russia’s working class in preparing for revolution.
Bolsheviks  a smaller, more radical group of
ruthless and “committed revolutionaries willing to
sacrifice everything” for more immediate change.
- Revolutionary
- Socialist
- Evolutionary
(delayed revolt)
- Top Down
- Proletariat
overthrow of
- Bottom Up
- Marxist
10) Bolshevik leader: Lenin
Leadership Qualities:
- charismatic (“engaging personality”)
- well organized
- well educated (middle class background)
- ruthless
- ambitious
- gifted speaker
Early obstacles to revolution:
Self-exile to avoid
arrest & imprisonment.
11) Czar Nicholas II’s fateful decisions, which will cost him
his throne and end three centuries of monarchy in Russia:
1. Russo-Japanese War (1904): Czar uses nationalism
and militarism to try and distract and unify Russians...
initiates a war with Japan (for imperial control of Korea).
Result: FAILURE... Russians lost war to a more
industrialized Japan, thus magnifying the scope of
Russia's problems and poor leadership!
11) End of the czars (continued):
2. Russia's “Bloody Sunday” (Revolution of 1905) →
200,000 workers gather peacefully to petition for
better working & living conditions (i.e. more
personal freedoms) and an elected legislature to
represent them as a voice in the government.
- Czar's security forces, feeling threatened, fire
upon crowd, killing hundreds, wounding
- Workers respond with violent national strikes
- Czar forced to create a national legislature, but he
then dissolves it within months... tensions remain!
11) Failures of Czar Nicholas II (continued):
3. World War I 
- Under-equipped, poorly trained, poorly led troops suffer
massive deaths; civilians endure food & fuel shortages.
- During war, Czar Nicholas II left for the front (to
“inspire” the troops), leaving government administration
in the hands of the Czarina and Rasputin.
- Rasputin was a peasant advisor and family confidant
(believed to have special powers in ameliorating the
czar’s son’s symptoms of hemophilia).
- The royal family permitted
Rasputin to influence
government policy, infuriating
Russians of all classes.
12) Russian Duma:
= elected legislature
(i.e. Russian parliament, or congress)
Had the Russian Duma been implemented,
Russia would have become a constitutional
… and may have avoided a violent revolution
that killed millions, and destroyed its
monarchy forever!

Slide 1