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Romanovs - Decline and Fall of the Dynasty

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Tsar Nicholas II to a certain extent could be held responsible for the Russian Revolution. The Tsar's conservative nature restricted him in his ability to reform and being able to prevent most of the tragic events that lead to the collapse of the dynasty. However there were various external factors that contributed to the Russian revolution that were out of the Tsars control.

Tsar Nicholas's conservative and reactionary attitude restricted his ability to reform and therefore contributed greatly to the Russian revolution. Nicholas' education and influence from his tutor had lead him to believe in the divine right of kings, that God had appointed him to rule Russia and that it was his sacred duty to maintain the absolute power of the Tsar. It was these beliefs that caused him to resist reform or any form of democracy. Initially the Nicholas was reluctant to become the Tsar and he confided in his brother of his doubts to handle such responsibility. And it was this attitude that caused him to prefer the comfort of his family life over the ruling of Russia, which lead to his eventual isolation from all classes of Russia, causing him to be out of touch with important issues. Nicholas lacked all personality traits that were vital for an autocratic ruling of a large country. He was weak, indecisive and easily influenced by others and didn't contain the commanding presence of his late father. The Tsars intimate and passionate relationship with the Tsarina Alexandra combined with his timid and loving nature resulted in the Tsarina having ultimate power over the Tsar's decisions. Alexandra was extremely conservative and religious, and distrusted outsiders and it was this narrow minded attitude that influenced the Tsar. However it is reasonable to conclude that if the Tsar was less conservative and easily influenced, then reform to a certain extent could have been achieved. Therefore it is possible that the Russian revolution could have been avoided.

What's more the rapid industrialisation of Russia resulted in poor living conditions and the Tsar's reluctance to acknowledge these discontents lead to revolutionaries being formed. The growth of industrialisation in the 1890s resulted in peasants leaving the countryside in the hope of better work and lives in the cities. However what awaited in the cities were unhygienic and overcrowded factory slums, poor working conditions and pay. Trade unions were made illegal by the Tsar so the working class had no representative to fight for improving pay or working standards. These conditions filled the working class with discontent. Consequently a willing audience formed for various revolutionary parties e.g. the Social Democrats and the Social Revolutionaries. Resulting in increasing amounts of strikes, political opposition and demonstrations; however the Tsar refused to consider their demand for representative government. Therefore the Tsars continued stubbornness in meeting the pleas of the Russian people, caused further discontent among the working class, resulting in their exposure to revolutionary influence. If the Tsar had acknowledged their needs, then perhaps the revolutionary parties would have had no audience, there would be no discontent and the revolution would have been prevented.

Similarly the Russo Japanese War had a devastating effect on the reputation of Russia, which indirectly diminished the people's faith in the Tsar. In 1904 the Tsar declared war on Japan, over the control of parts of Korea. The aim was to bring the people of Russia together through patriotism by having 'a short victorious war to stem the revolutionary tide.' However this plan backfired as the Russian navy lost at the Battle of Mukden 1905. This was the first loss of a European power against an Asian country and thus humiliating Russia and its people. This loss highlighted the inefficiencies of the regime as well as its military weakness, further discontenting the Russian people and increasing their demands for reform. If the Tsar however was prepared before declaring war, his initial plan would have been a success and the Russian people's aggravation would have dissolved. Thus the Russian revolution would have been prevented.

The Tsar's failure to respond to the 1905 revolution with peace directly resulted in increased discontent

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