The End of Imperial Russia, 1855-1917

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Palgrave Macmillan, May 15, 1997 - History - 189 pages
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The Tsarist regime collapsed in 1917 with barely a whimper. Nicholas II abdicated in February in the face of popular unrest in the Russian capital and, less than eight months later, the Provisional Government which had replaced the autocracy was brusquely swept aside by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. The dramatic events of 1917 had their roots, however, firmly in the history of Russia. This book examines the imperial Russian state and the society over which it ruled. It deals with Russia during the reigns of the last three Tsars, Alexander II (1855-81), Alexander III (1881-94) and Nicholas II (1894-1917), and identifies the sources of instability - political, economic and social - which meant that, as the great crisis of the First World War engulfed Russia, the Tsarist regime found itself bereft of support. The book examines key themes in the history of late imperial Russia. It looks at the political structures of the empire, the forces of opposition to the regime and the impact of reform in the 1860s. Even though concessions were wrung from the regime in the revolution of 1905, Tsarism proved powerful enough to reassert its authority and render the new parliament ineffective. Economic and social change were much more difficult for the state to manage and the book deals with the attempts at rural reform, analyzing why they failed to bring fundamental change to the Russian countryside. As industrialization proceeded, Russian cities expanded and brought huge social change. Working people were to play a key role in eventually bringing an end to Tsarism. Russia was a multinational empire and the impact that the state's imperial ambitions had, both internally and on Russian foreign policy, are considered. It was the First World War which proved to be the midwife of revolution: between 1914 and 1917 the strains which had accumulated in Russia over the previous 60 years came to a head. The book concludes by analyzing why the Tsarist regime failed to survive this great crisis.

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About the author (1997)

Peter Waldron is Reader in History at the University of Sunderland.

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