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HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Decembrist Revolt, Autocracy, Nicholas I Of Russia

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Kenneth Bartlett

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March 14th, 2011
The Russian Revolution
Single most significant event of the 20th century
Small professional middle class only up until the 19th century
Influence of western ideas felt only in the 19th century
Tradition of autocracy, not liberalism
Tsar & middle class had reason to fear the oppressed peasants
Army officers attempted a coup détat by demanding a constitution (Alexander I
The Decembrists tried to introduce Western ideas of liberalism to the empire
Tsar & his officials became even more oppressive
Concepts such as progress, liberalism, & industrialization were outlawed in
Pan-Slavism Russia father of all Slavic peoples
After the suppression of the Decembrist Revolt, Nicolas I established a secret
police, to protect peoples from Western ideas (heir to the Byzantine Empire,
goals could only be driven by the autocracy)
Russia viewed holier than the rest of Europe, Tsar portrayed as the father of his
people, & his people were his children their duty was to obey
Secret police said to exist in order to keep the Slavic people pure, & Russia free
from ideas such as competition, constitutionalism, freedom of speech &
association, Liberalism
Hostility to Western powers
Russia became fearful about its place in Europe, & in the world surrounded by
non-Slavic peoples that would spread ideas that would corrupt the Slavs
Alexander II, 1855-1881
State-system couldnt deliver the source of military organization that a modern
state could began to try to reform Russia, as a new form of autocracy
Realized that Russia had to modernize
Liberated the Serfs in 1861, this turned the group into adventured labourers, &
they had freedom
There was an attempt to change the nature of the government so as to make it
more efficient
Created a legal system, for the first time a large class of educated middle class
professionals arose to practice this law
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Liberal, educated, progressive, & secular urban professional class began to be
seen in Russia army modernized, some brutal practices reduced, army became
a means of centralization
Began to build railroads to move goods quickly, as well as harbours to allow for
sea-born trade Russia began to enter the world economy
Western European industrialists began to import industry to Russia
Explosion of industrial activity, under the control of Tsar
Rapidly growing mercantile classes led to the spread of literacy, it was only a
short period of time before Western ideas were brought into Russia
Russian response not one of oppression, but rather a search for an international
voice to reflect the special nature of the Russian society
Effects of the middle class intellectual explosion of Russia as a cultured state was
the exchange of ideas
The Tsar & his advisors supported nationalism through the perspective of Pan-
Western ideas such as Liberalism & Socialism began to take root in Russia 
seen as alternatives
After the Polish rebellion of 1863, the Tsar was driven into a more conservative
Educated members of the elite that saw the need for change into underground
cells, they couldnt form political parties or have newspapers or journals 
became widespread & large (composed of members of the middle class, & of the
When the tsar noticed the underground activity, they became more & more
Following the assassination of Alexander II led to flirtation with Western ideals &
Liberalism stopped
Alexander III, 1881-1894
Strengthened the police & army, used it against his people
Principle of autocracy default in Russian life
Couldnt stop the growth of industrialization
Idea imported through the railways Russian economy boomed due to
industrialization, the horrors of early industrialization occurred
The migration of peasants to the cities result was the alienation & the
exploitation of factory workers (group that was seen in Western Europe)
Unplanned explosion of industrial growth almost destroyed the Russian economy
for example: prices rose
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