The Romanov Rule in Russia The Romanovs had ruled Russia since 1613. When the last tsar of all,
Nicholas II, was appointed to the throne in 1894, there was no hint of
the fate that awaited him. Many among the huge crowds that lined the
streets for his coronation celebration saw him as their "little
father." They believed God had supposedly appointed Nicholas to rule
an empire covering about one-sixth of the earth's land area.
In 1894, Russia was at peace. Foreign investors promoted its
industrialization. Russia was ranked among the world's greatest powers
under the autocracy of the Romanovs.
Although well intentioned, Nicholas was a weak ruler, out of touch
with his people, easily dominated by others and a firm believer in the
autocratic principles taught him by his father. He ruled Russia as an
autocrat. Propaganda and the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church
encouraged his people to love and respect their tsar and look on him
as a father who had the right to rule them.
Nicholas II ruled a police state, called the okhrana, which responded
brutally to anyone who dared question his authority. He had absolute
power. He declared the law and could overrule any existing law.
Political parties were illegal until 1905. There was no parliament
until 1906 and even then, Russia was hostile to its existence. He was
free to appoint and dismiss his advisers without giving reasons.
In 1900, the Russian empire compromised 23 different nationalities;
many resented Russian rule. Russians made up 40% of the empire's 132
million people. 77% of the population were peasants; 10% belonged to
the middle class, and 1% to the nobility. The remaining 12% included
priests, urban workers, officials, Cossacks, and foreigners.
In the early 1900s, Russia was on the brink of crisis. Failed
harvests, inflation, and economic depression saw Russia's peasants and
urban workers increasingly resort to riots, demonstrations, and
strikes to protest at their poor conditions. Russians people demanded
the redress of numerous political, social, and economic problems. The
Tsar persisted in the belief that to grant reforms would undermine his
Peasant poverty was a long-standing problem. Russians peasants gained
their emancipation in 1861 in the form of a decree from Tsar Alexander
II. They then received pay for their work and were freed from
ownership. However, there were significant limitations on their
freedom. They paid redemption...