Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




The Modern Era

1789 - 1914


In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.
 

 


 


Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.

 

 


see also:

collection:
Ilya Repin
collection: Vasily Surikov
collection: Vasili Perov
collection: Mikhail Vrubel
collection: Boris Kustodiev

Russian  Silver Age 
World of Art (Mir iskusstva) - 1898
Blue Rose - 1904
Jack of Diamonds [Rus. Bubnovy Valet], 1910
Union of Youth [Rus. Soyuz Molodyozhi], 1910
Rayonism - 1912

composer
Rimsky-Korsakov
composer Borodin
composer Mussorgsky
composer Tchaikovsky
composer Scriabin

DOSTOEVSKI  FYODOR MIKHAILOVICH
TOLSTOY LEO

CHEKHOV  ANTON

 

 


Russia from the Treaty of Tilsit to the Abdication of the Last Czar
 


1807-1917
 

 

Russia remained isolated from many of the political and economic developments that transformed Western Europe in the 19th century. Domestically autocratic and with an economy long based on a semi-feudal agricultural system, Russia faced a growing gulf between the vast majority of the population and the high nobility. Although Russia conquered large territories, its failures in foreign affairs weakened  czarism. Tentative reform initiatives were always followed by periods of extreme reaction which forced moderate liberals toward radicalism. With the onset of industrialization urban workers joined radical intellectuals in the Revolution.

 


Russia under Alexander II
 

Czar Alexander II expanded the empire to the Pacific Ocean. Cautious reforms did not satisfy the reform movement, and the czar was assassinated by radical militants in 1881.

 

2, 3 Alexander II, who succeeded his father in 1855, ended the Crimean War.


2 Photo of Alexander II, Czar of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland, 1871
3 The Church of the Savior on Blood commemorates the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.


Following this fiasco in the south, Russia turned to focus its expansionist plans on the east.

In 1856, Russia annexed portions of Sakhalin Island and in 1858 seized all the territory up to the Pacific coast, where 6 Vladivostok was founded in 1860.

The czar sold Alaska to the United States in 1867.

In 1891 the 1 construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad began, connecting the empire's farflung provinces.


6 The port of Vladivostok on the Pacific coast, founded in 1860


1 Construction of a bridge over the river Jenisseij, part of the Trans-Siberian
railroad, built between 1891 and 1904

Russia seized further territories in the southeast during the 1860s and 1870s so that the borders of the empire extended almost as far as India.

Alexander II complied with the desires for reform in Russia by abolishing serfdom in 1861, followed three years later by the introduction of zemstvos—elected institutions of local government—and compulsory military service. But these measures did not satisfy the opposition and secret societies remained active.

The self-styled 4 Narodniki ("Friends of the People") group was active primarily in rural areas.


4 Vera Ivanova Sassulitch,
member of the Narodniki in
Michajlovka, near the city
of Smolensk


Narodniki


Russian social movement plural Narodniki, or Narodniks, (Russian: “Populist”: )
member of a 19th-century socialist movement in Russia who believed that political propaganda among the peasantry would lead to the awakening of the masses and, through their influence, to the liberalization of the tsarist regime. Because Russia was a predominantly agricultural country, the peasants represented the majority of the people (narod): hence the name of the movement, narodnichestvo, or “populism.”

The movement arose among the Russian intelligentsia in the 1860s and gained momentum in the 1870s. It was enhanced by dissatisfaction with Alexander II’s Emancipation Manifesto of 1861, which, though liberating the peasants from serfdom, created unsatisfactory economic conditions for peasant agriculture by favouring the landowners in the redistribution of land and by imposing an involved system of collective compensation on the villages. The Narodniki embodied in their teachings a considerable amount of communist ideology gathered from Karl Marx’s works, accepting, for instance, his ideas of communal ownership and production and his dislike for private enterprise. However, they modified two of Marx’s fundamental principles. First, they believed in agrarian communism and disregarded the industrial proletariat, which at that time represented only a small minority of the population of Russia. Second, they adapted to their needs Marx’s theory of historical development, according to which human society must progress inevitably from primitive communism to industrial capitalism and thence to the dictatorship of the proletariat. That, the Narodniki argued, would not apply to Russia, where peasant life was based on the traditional institution of communal land tenure, the mir. A successful change of regime would, in their view, allow Russia to skip the intermediate stage of capitalism and pass straight from primitive communism to modern socialism. The mir and the artel (a primitive village productive cooperative), the Narodniki asserted, would then naturally evolve a system of production and distribution beneficial to the community.

The activities of the Narodniki developed in the late 1860s and early 1870s in a diffuse movement known as khozhdenie v narod (“going to the people”) in the course of which hundreds of young intellectuals, dressed in peasant clothes, canvased rural regions and incited the peasantry to rise against the system. This led to police persecution, arrests, and political trials of the Narodniki, the most famous mass trial of which was the “trial of the 193” (1878). Furthermore, the illiterate peasantry did not always respond to propaganda in the expected way and sometimes betrayed the dedicated intellectuals to the police.
The combination of peasant indifference and government persecution drove the Narodniki in the mid-1870s to a more radical program and to tighter methods of organization. The first truly Narodnik organization to emerge from this situation was the revolutionary group Zemlya i Volya (“Land and Freedom”). Zemlya i Volya initially continued to work among the peasantry, but continued police persecution soon drove its members to terrorism. In 1879 Zemlya i Volya split into two groups: Narodnaya Volya (“People’s Will”), a terrorist party that disintegrated after it assassinated Tsar Alexander II (1881), and Chorny Peredel (“Black Repartition”), a party that continued to emphasize work among the peasantry until its members shifted their attention to the urban proletariat in the 1880s. The populist ideology of the Narodnik movement was revived by its 20th-century ideological descendant, the Socialist Revolutionary Party.

Encyclopaedia Britannica


A rebellion by Serbs and Montenegrins against Turkish rule in 1876 presented Russia with another opportunity to realize its ambitions in the Dardanelles.

Russia took the side of the rebels, igniting the Eighth Russo-Turkish War in January 1877, which further 5 weakened the Ottoman Empire.

In the Treaty of San Stefano, on March 5, 1878, Russia gained large areas of Ottoman dominions and consequently gained hegemony over the Black Sea region. The Great Powers substantially revised this settlement at the Berlin Congress—under the Treaty of Berlin of July 13,1878, which cut back Russia's influence—but they did not resolve the "Eastern Question" of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire or prevent the looming crisis in the Balkans.


5 Capitulation of Turkish fortress Plevna, in present-day
Bulgaria, December 10, 1877: The wounded Osman Pasha
is presented to Czar Alexander II

 

 

Alexander II


Alexander II, by Konstantin Makovsky, 1881

emperor of Russia
Russian in full Aleksandr Nikolayevich
born April 29 [April 17, Old Style], 1818, Moscow, Russia
died March 13 [March 1, Old Style], 1881, St. Petersburg

Main
emperor of Russia (1855–81). His liberal education and distress at the outcome of the Crimean War, which had demonstrated Russia’s backwardness, inspired him toward a great program of domestic reforms, the most important being the emancipation (1861) of the serfs. A period of repression after 1866 led to a resurgence of revolutionary terrorism and to Alexander’s own assassination.

Life
The future Tsar Alexander II was the eldest son of the grand duke Nikolay Pavlovich (who, in 1825, became the emperor Nicholas I) and his wife, Alexandra Fyodorovna (who, before her marriage to the Grand Duke and baptism into the Orthodox Church, had been the princess Charlotte of Prussia). Alexander’s youth and early manhood were overshadowed by the overpowering personality of his dominating father, from whose authoritarian principles of government he was never to free himself. But at the same time, at the instigation of his mother, responsibility for the boy’s moral and intellectual development was entrusted to the poet Vasily Zhukovsky, a humanitarian liberal and romantic. Alexander, a rather lazy boy of average intelligence, retained throughout his life traces of his old tutor’s romantic sensibility. The tensions created by the conflicting influences of Nicholas I and Zhukovsky left their mark on the future emperor’s personality. Alexander II, like his uncle Alexander I before him (who was educated by a Swiss republican tutor, a follower of Rousseau), was to turn into a “liberalizing,” or at any rate humanitarian, autocrat.

Alexander succeeded to the throne at age 36, following the death of his father in February 1855, at the height of the Crimean War. The war had revealed Russia’s glaring backwardness in comparison with more advanced nations like England and France. Russian defeats, which had set the seal of final discredit on the oppressive regime of Nicholas I, had provoked among Russia’s educated elite a general desire for drastic change. It was under the impact of this widespread urge that the tsar embarked upon a series of reforms designed, through “modernization,” to bring Russia into line with the more advanced Western countries.

Among the earliest concerns of the new emperor (once peace had been concluded in Paris in the spring of 1856 on terms considered harsh by the Russian public) was the improvement of communications. Russia at this time had only one railway line of significance, that linking the two capitals of St. Petersburg and Moscow. At Alexander’s accession there were fewer than 600 miles (965 km) of track; when he died in 1881, some 14,000 miles (22,525 km) of railway were in operation. In Russia, as elsewhere, railway construction, in its turn, meant a general quickening of economic life in a hitherto predominantly feudal agricultural society. Joint-stock companies developed, as did banking and credit institutions. The movement of grain, Russia’s major article of export, was facilitated.

The same effect was achieved by another measure of modernization, the abolition of serfdom. In the face of bitter opposition from landowning interests, Alexander II, overcoming his natural indolence, took an active personal part in the arduous legislative labours that on Febuary 19, 1861, culminated in the Emancipation Act. By a stroke of the autocrat’s pen, tens of millions of human chattels were given their personal freedom. By means of a long-drawn-out redemption operation, moreover, they were also endowed with modest allotments of land. Although for a variety of reasons the reform failed in its ultimate object of creating an economically viable class of peasant proprietors, its psychological impact was immense. It has been described as “the greatest social movement since the French Revolution” and constituted a major step in the freeing of labour in Russia. Yet at the same time, it helped to undermine the already shaken economic foundations of Russia’s landowning class.

The abolition of serfdom brought in its train a drastic overhaul of some of Russia’s archaic administrative institutions. The most crying abuses of the old judicial system were remedied by the judicial statute of 1864. Russia, for the first time, was given a judicial system that in important respects could stand comparison with those of Western countries (in fact, in many particulars it followed that of France). Local government in its turn was remodeled by the statute of 1864, setting up elective local assemblies known as zemstvos. Their gradual introduction extended the area of self-government, improved local welfare (education, hygiene, medical care, local crafts, agronomy), and brought the first rays of enlightenment to the benighted Russian villages. Before long zemstvo village schools powerfully supported the spread of rural literacy. Meanwhile, Dmitry Milyutin, an enlightened minister of war, was carrying out an extensive series of reforms affecting nearly every branch of the Russian military organization. The educative role of military service was underlined by a marked improvement of military schools. The army statute of 1874 introduced conscription for the first time, making young men of all classes liable to military service.

The keynote of these reforms—and there were many lesser ones affecting various aspects of Russian life—was the modernization of Russia, its release from feudalism, and acceptance of Western culture and technology. Their aim and results were the reduction of class privilege, humanitarian progress, and economic development. Moreover, Alexander, from the moment of his accession, had instituted a political “thaw.” Political prisoners had been released and Siberian exiles allowed to return. The personally tolerant emperor had removed or mitigated the heavy disabilities weighing on religious minorities, particularly Jews and sectarians. Restrictions on foreign travel had been lifted. Barbarous medieval punishments were abolished. The severity of Russian rule in Poland was relaxed. Yet, notwithstanding these measures, it would be wrong, as is sometimes done, to describe Alexander II as a liberal. He was in fact a firm upholder of autocratic principles, sincerely convinced both of his duty to maintain the God-given autocratic power he had inherited and of Russia’s unreadiness for constitutional or representative government.

Practical experience only strengthened these convictions. Thus, the relaxation of Russian rule in Poland led to patriotic street demonstrations, attempted assassinations, and, finally, in 1863, to a national uprising that was only suppressed with some difficulty—and under threat of Western intervention on behalf of the Poles. Even more serious, from the tsar’s point of view, was the spread of nihilistic doctrines among Russian youth, producing radical leaflets, secret societies, and the beginnings of a revolutionary movement. The government, after 1862, had reacted increasingly with repressive police measures. A climax was reached in the spring of 1866, when Dmitry Karakozov, a young revolutionary, attempted to kill the emperor. Alexander—who bore himself gallantly in the face of great danger—escaped almost by a miracle. The attempt, however, left its mark by completing his conversion to conservatism. For the next eight years, the tsar’s leading minister—maintaining his influence at least in part by frightening his master with real and imaginary dangers—was Pyotr Shuvalov, the head of the secret police.

The period of reaction following Karakozov’s attempt coincided with a turning point in Alexander’s personal life, the beginning of his liaison with Princess Yekaterina Dolgorukaya, a young girl to whom the aging emperor had become passionately attached. The affair, which it was impossible to conceal, absorbed the tsar’s energies while weakening his authority both in his own family circle (his wife, the former princess Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt, had borne him six sons and two daughters) and in St. Petersburg society. His sense of guilt, moreover, made him vulnerable to the pressures of the Pan-Slav nationalists, who used the ailing and bigoted empress as their advocate when in 1876 Serbia became involved in war with the Ottoman Empire. Although decidedly a man of peace, Alexander became the reluctant champion of the oppressed Slav peoples and in 1877 finally declared war on Turkey. Following initial setbacks, Russian arms eventually triumphed, and, early in 1878, the vanguard of the Russian armies stood encamped on the shores of the Sea of Marmara. The prime reward of Russian victory—seriously reduced by the European powers at the Congress of Berlin—was the independence of Bulgaria from Turkey. Appropriately, that country still honours Alexander II among its “founding fathers” with a statue in the heart of its capital, Sofia.

Comparative military failure in 1877, aggravated by comparative diplomatic failure at the conference table, ushered in a major crisis in the Russian state. Beginning in 1879, there was a resurgence of revolutionary terrorism soon concentrated on the person of the tsar himself. Following unsuccessful attempts to shoot him, to derail his train, and finally to blow up the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg itself, Alexander, who under personal attack had shown unflinching courage based on a fatalist philosophy, entrusted supreme power to a temporary dictator. The minister of the interior, Count Mikhail Loris-Melikov, was charged with exterminating the terrorist organization (calling itself People’s Will) while at the same time conciliating moderate opinion, which had become alienated by the repressive policies pursued since 1866. At the same time, following the death of the empress in 1880, the tsar had privately married Yekaterina Dolgorukaya (who had borne him three children) and was planning to proclaim her his consort. To make this step palatable to the Russian public, he intended to couple the announcement with a modest concession to constitutionalist aspirations. There were to be two legislative commissions including indirectly elected representatives. This so-called Loris-Melikov Constitution, if implemented, might possibly have become the germ of constitutional development in Russia. But on the day when, after much hesitation, the tsar finally signed the proclamation announcing his intentions (March 1, 1881), he was mortally wounded by bombs in a plot sponsored by People’s Will.

It can be said that he was a great historical figure without being a great man, that what he did was more important than what he was. His Great Reforms indeed rank in importance with those of Peter the Great and Vladimir Lenin, yet the impact of his personality was much inferior to theirs. The tsar’s place in history—a substantial one—is due almost entirely to his position as the absolute ruler of a vast empire at a critical stage in its development.


Assessment
The modernization of Russian institutions, though piecemeal, was extensive. In Alexander’s reign, Russia built the base needed for emergence into capitalism and industrialization later in the century. At the same time, Russian expansion, especially in Asia, steadily gathered momentum. The sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867 was outweighed in importance by the acquisition of the Maritime Province from China (1858 and 1860) and the founding of Vladivostok as Russia’s far eastern capital (1860), the definitive subjugation of the Caucasus (in the 1860s), and the conquest of central Asia (Khiva, Bokhara, Turkestan) in the 1870s. The contribution of the reign to the development of what was to be described as Russia’s “cotton imperialism” was immense. Here also, the reign of Alexander paved the way for the later phases of Russian imperialism in Asia.

Alexander’s importance lies chiefly in his efforts to assist Russia’s emergence from the past. To some extent, he was, of course, the representative of forces—intellectual, economic, and political—that were stronger than himself or, indeed, any single individual. After the Crimean War, the modernization of Russia had indeed become imperative if Russia was to retain its position as a major European power. But even within the context of a wider movement, the role of Alexander II, through his position as autocratic ruler, was a highly important one. The Great Reforms, both in what they achieved and in what they failed to do, bear the imprint of his personality. Unfortunately, however, by placing great power in the hands of the influential reactionary minister K.P. Pobedonostsev—whom he appointed minister for church affairs (procurator of the Holy Synod) and entrusted with the education of his son and heir, the future Alexander III—Alexander II, perhaps unwittingly, did much to frustrate his own reforming policies and to set Russia finally on the road to revolution.

W.E. Mosse

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Emancipation Manifesto

Russia [1861]
Main
(March 3 [Feb. 19, Old Style], 1861), manifesto issued by the Russian emperor Alexander II that accompanied 17 legislative acts that freed the serfs of the Russian Empire. (The acts were collectively called Statutes Concerning Peasants Leaving Serf Dependence, or Polozheniya o Krestyanakh Vykhodyashchikh iz Krepostnoy Zavisimosty.)

Defeat in the Crimean War, a perceptible change in public opinion, and the increasing number and violence of peasant revolts had shown Alexander, who became tsar during the war, that only a thorough reform of Russia’s antiquated social structure would put the nation on an equal footing with the Western powers. The abolition of serfdom, he decided, was the first priority. In April 1856, in a speech to a group of noblemen, he revealed his intention. The following January he appointed a secret committee to investigate the problems. When the committee, composed primarily of conservative landowners, failed to draw pertinent conclusions, Alexander publicly authorized the formation of provincial committees of noblemen to formulate plans for emancipating the serfs (December 1857).

By the end of 1859 the committees had sent their proposals to the “editorial commissions,” which evaluated them and drafted the preliminary statutes for emancipation (October 1860). These were revised by the Chief Committee (formerly the secret committee) and by the State Council (January 1861) and were signed by the tsar on Feb. 19, 1861, and published on March 5. The final edict, or ukase, was a compromise between the plans of the liberals, the conservatives, the government bureaucrats, and the landed nobility. It fully satisfied no one, particularly the group directly involved: the peasants.

According to the act, the serfs were immediately granted personal liberties and promised land. But the process by which they were to acquire the land was slow, complex, and expensive. They were required to serve their landlords while inventories of all the land were taken, land allotments calculated, and payment calculated, since, legally, the land belonged to the landlord. Peasants, with the government loans, had to “redeem” their land allotments from the landlords and make “redemption payments” to the government for the next 49 years.

By 1881 about 85 percent of the peasants had received their land; redemption was then made compulsory. The land allotments were adequate to support the families living on them and to yield enough for them to meet their redemption payments. But the large population growth that occurred in Russia between emancipation and the Revolution of 1905 made it increasingly difficult for the former serfs to get by economically.

Emancipation had been intended to cure Russia’s most basic social weakness, the backwardness and want into which serfdom cast the nation’s peasantry. In fact, though an important class of well-to-do peasants did emerge in time, most remained poor and land-hungry, crushed by huge redemption payments. It was not until the revolutionary year of 1905 that the government terminated these payments. By then, the peasant loyalty that the emancipation was intended to create could no longer be achieved.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 

Peter Kropotkin

In 1862, at the age of 20, Peter Alekseyevich Kropotkin joined the army. During his period of service he worked as a geographer in Siberia. In the 1870s he traveled to Western Europe for the Russian Geographical Society where he became acquainted with revolutionary social theories, and became a convinced anarchist.
After returning to St. Petersburg in 1874, he was arrested for agitating against the czar but was able to escape to Western Europe two years later. He was put under house arrest for four years in France in the 1880s and then lived in exile in England until 1917. There he wrote a number of papers, notably his famous blueprint of an anarchist Utopia, Mutual Aid (1902).

Disillusioned with the statism of Lenin's Bolshevism after his return to Russia, he gradually removed himself from political life.



Prince Peter Alexseyevich Kropotkin

 

 

 

Peter Alekseyevich Kropotkin


Russian revolutionary

born December 21 [December 9, Old Style], 1842, Moscow, Russia
died February 8, 1921, Dmitrov, near Moscow

Main
Russian revolutionary and geographer, the foremost theorist of the anarchist movement. Although he achieved renown in a number of different fields, ranging from geography and zoology to sociology and history, he shunned material success for the life of a revolutionist.

Early life and conversion to anarchism
The son of Prince Aleksey Petrovich Kropotkin, Peter Kropotkin was educated in the exclusive Corps of Pages in St. Petersburg. For a year he served as an aide to Tsar Alexander II and, from 1862 to 1867, as an army officer in Siberia, where, apart from his military duties, he studied animal life and engaged in geographic exploration. On the basis of his observations, he elaborated a theory of the structural lines of mountain ranges that revised the cartography of eastern Asia. He also contributed to knowledge of the glaciation of Asia and Europe during the Ice Age.

Kropotkin’s findings won him immediate recognition and opened the way to a distinguished scientific career. But in 1871 he refused the secretaryship of the Russian Geographical Society and, renouncing his aristocratic heritage, dedicated his life to the cause of social justice. During his Siberian service he already had begun his conversion to anarchism—the doctrine that all forms of government should be abolished—and in 1872 a visit to the Swiss watchmakers of the Jura Mountains, whose voluntary associations of mutual support won his admiration, reinforced his beliefs. On his return to Russia he joined a revolutionary group, the Chaiykovsky Circle, that disseminated propaganda among the workers and peasants of St. Petersburg and Moscow. At this time he wrote Must We Occupy Ourselves with an Examination of the Ideal of a Future System?, an anarchist analysis of a postrevolutionary order in which decentralized cooperative organizations would take over the functions normally performed by governments. Caught in a police dragnet, he was imprisoned in 1874 but made a sensational escape two years later, fleeing to western Europe, where his name soon became revered in radical circles. The next few years were spent mostly in Switzerland until he was expelled at the demand of the Russian government after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II by revolutionaries in 1881. He moved to France but was arrested and imprisoned for three years on trumped-up charges of sedition. Released in 1886, he settled in England, where he remained until the Russian Revolution of 1917 allowed him to return to his native country.


Philosopher of revolution
During his long exile, Kropotkin wrote a series of influential works, the most important being Paroles d’un révolté (1885; “Words of a Rebel”), In Russian and French Prisons (1887), The Conquest of Bread (1892), Fields, Factories and Workshops (1899), Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1899), Mutual Aid (1902), Russian Literature (1905), and The Great French Revolution 1789–1793 (1909). In recognition of his scholarship, Kropotkin was invited to write an article on anarchism for the 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Kropotkin’s aim, as he often remarked, was to provide anarchism with a scientific basis. In Mutual Aid, which is widely regarded as his masterpiece, he argued that, despite the Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest, cooperation rather than conflict is the chief factor in the evolution of species. Providing abundant examples, he showed that sociability is a dominant feature at every level of the animal world. Among humans, too, he found that mutual aid has been the rule rather than the exception. He traced the evolution of voluntary cooperation from the primitive tribe, peasant village, and medieval commune to a variety of modern associations—trade unions, learned societies, the Red Cross—that have continued to practice mutual support despite the rise of the coercive bureaucratic state. The trend of modern history, he believed, was pointing back toward decentralized, nonpolitical, cooperative societies in which people could develop their creative faculties without interference from rulers, clerics, or soldiers.

In his theory of “anarchist communism,” according to which private property and unequal incomes would be replaced by the free distribution of goods and services, Kropotkin took a major step in the development of anarchist economic thought. For the principle of wages he substituted the principle of needs. Each person would be the judge of his own requirements, taking from the common storehouse whatever he deemed necessary, whether or not he contributed a share of the labour. Kropotkin envisioned a society in which people would do both manual and mental work, both in industry and in agriculture. Members of each cooperative community would work from their 20s to their 40s, four or five hours a day sufficing for a comfortable life, and the division of labour would yield a variety of pleasant jobs, resulting in the sort of integrated, organic existence that had prevailed in the medieval city.

To prepare people for this happier life, Kropotkin pinned his hopes on the education of the young. To achieve an integrated society, he called for education that would cultivate both mental and manual skills. Due emphasis was to be placed on the humanities and on mathematics and science, but, instead of being taught from books alone, children were to receive an active outdoor education and to learn by doing and observing firsthand, a recommendation that has been widely endorsed by modern educational theorists. Drawing on his own experience of prison life, Kropotkin also advocated a thorough modification of the penal system. Prisons, he said, were “schools of crime” that, far from reforming the offender, subjected him to brutalizing punishments and hardened him in his criminal ways. In the future anarchist world, antisocial behaviour would be dealt with not by laws and prisons but by human understanding and the moral pressure of the community.

Kropotkin combined the qualities of a scientist and moralist with those of a revolutionary organizer and propagandist. For all his mild benevolence, he condoned the use of violence in the struggle for freedom and equality, and, during his early years as an anarchist militant, he was among the most vigorous exponents of “propaganda by the deed”—acts of insurrection that would supplement oral and written propaganda and help to awaken the rebellious instincts of the people. He was the principal founder of both the English and Russian anarchist movements and exerted a strong influence on the movements in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. But he alienated many of his comrades by supporting the Allied powers during World War I. His action, though prompted by the fear that German authoritarianism might prove fatal to social progress, violated the strong antimilitarist tradition among anarchists and touched off bitter polemics that nearly destroyed the movement for which he had laboured nearly half a century.


Return to Russia
Events took an unexpected turn with the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Kropotkin, by this time age 74, hastened to return to his homeland. When he arrived in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) in June 1917 after 40 years in exile, he was greeted warmly and offered the ministry of education in the provisional government, a post he brusquely declined. Yet his hopes for the future were never brighter, because in 1917 the organizations that he thought might form the basis of a stateless society—the communes and soviets, or soldiers’ and workers’ councils—suddenly began to appear in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

With the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, however, his earlier enthusiasm turned to bitter disappointment. “This buries the revolution,” he remarked to a friend. The Bolsheviks, he said, have shown how the revolution was not to be made—that is, by authoritarian rather than libertarian methods. Kropotkin’s last years were devoted chiefly to writing a history of ethics, one volume of which was completed. He also fostered an anarchist cooperative in the village of Dmitrov, north of Moscow, where he died in 1921. His funeral, attended by tens of thousands of admirers, was the last occasion in the Soviet era when the black flag of anarchism was paraded through the Russian capital.

Kropotkin’s life exemplified the high ethical standard and the combination of thought and action that he preached throughout his writings. He displayed none of the egotism, duplicity, or lust for power that marred the image of so many other revolutionaries. Because of this he was admired not only by his own comrades but by many for whom the label of anarchist meant little more than the dagger and the bomb. The French writer Romain Rolland said that Kropotkin lived what Leo Tolstoy only advocated, and Oscar Wilde called him one of the two really happy men he had known.

Paul Avrich
Martin A. Miller

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Anarchism

Overview
Political theory holding all forms of government authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.

The word was used only pejoratively until Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, now regarded as the founder of anarchism, adopted it in What is Property? (1840). The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin clashed with Karl Marx at the First International; when it was dissolved in 1872, Bakunin’s followers retained control of workers’ organizations in Latin countries such as Spain and Italy. Even anarchists who believed that the transition to a government-free society required violent revolution disagreed on the nature of the transition. Anarcho-syndicalism, which developed in the late 1880s, emphasized labour unions (syndicats) and called for general strikes to paralyze the state. In the 19th and 20th centuries, anarchism also inspired experimental communities, including New Lanark in Britain and Brook Farm in the U.S. During the early months of the Spanish Civil War, anarchist militias were in virtual control of much of eastern Spain, where they established hundreds of anarchist collectives. Suppressed as an organized movement by fascism in the 1930s, anarchism reemerged in the 1950s and ’60s through its influence on the civil rights movement and the student movements in the U.S. and Europe. The radical ecology movement in the 1970s also was inspired by anarchist ideas. Beginning in 1999, anarchist-led street demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund received unprecedented publicity and inspired new anarchist groups, periodicals, and Internet sites. Anarchist themes are reflected in the work of many 20th-century artists, writers, and musicians, including Pablo Picasso, the American poets of the Beat movement, the Spanish Surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel, and the American composer John Cage.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin


Bakunin

Russian anarchist

born May 30 [May 18, Old Style], 1814, Premukhino, Russia
died July 1 [June 19], 1876, Bern, Switzerland

Main
chief propagator of 19th-century anarchism, a prominent Russian revolutionary agitator, and a prolific political writer. His quarrel with Karl Marx split the anarchist and Marxist wings of the revolutionary socialist movement for many years after their deaths.

Early life
Bakunin was the eldest son of a small landowner in the province of Tver. His lifetime of revolt began when he was sent to the Artillery School in St. Petersburg and later was posted to a military unit on the Polish frontier. In 1835 he absented himself without leave and resigned his commission, an action for which he narrowly escaped arrest for desertion. During the next five years he divided his time between Premukhino, where he plunged into the study of the German philosophers Johann Fichte and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Moscow, where he moved in the literary circles of the critic Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky, the novelist Ivan Turgenev, and the publicist Aleksandr Herzen. In 1840, with his opinions still in a fluid and turbulent state, he journeyed to Berlin to complete his education. There he fell under the spell of the Young Hegelians, the radical followers of Hegel. After moving to Dresden, Bakunin published his first revolutionary credo in a radical journal in 1842, ending with a now-famous aphorism: “The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.” This brought him a peremptory order to return to Russia and, on his refusal, the loss of his passport. After brief periods in Switzerland and Belgium, Bakunin settled in Paris, where he consorted with French and German Socialists, including Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx, and numerous Polish émigrés who inspired him to combine the cause of the national liberation of the Slav peoples with that of social revolution. The February Revolution of 1848 in Paris gave him his first taste of street fighting, and after a few days of eager participation he traveled eastward in the hope of fanning the flames of revolution in Germany and Poland. In Prague in June 1848, he attended the Slav congress, which ended when Austrian troops bombarded the city. Later that year, in the secure retreat of Anhalt-Köthen in Germany, he wrote his first major manifesto, An Appeal to the Slavs, in which he denounced the bourgeoisie as a spent counterrevolutionary force, called for the overthrow of the Habsburg Empire and the creation in central Europe of a free federation of Slav peoples, and counted on the peasant—especially the Russian peasant—with his tradition of violent revolt, as the agent of the coming revolution.

Tired of inaction, Bakunin once more plunged into revolutionary intrigues and, engaging in the Dresden insurrection of May 1849, was arrested. The Saxon authorities turned him over to Austria, where he was incarcerated and then transferred to Russia. There, in May 1851, he was back on Russian soil in the Peter-Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. At the invitation of the chief of police he wrote an enigmatic Confession, which was not published until 1921. It consisted of expressions of repentance for misdeeds and abject appeals for mercy but also included some gestures of defiance, playing heavily on Bakunin’s devotion to the Slavs and hatred of the Germans—sentiments that were noted with interest and approval by the tsar. Nevertheless, the work did not win Bakunin’s release, and he remained in the Peter-Paul Fortress for three years and in another fortress, the Schlisselburg, for three additional years, during which time his health deteriorated rapidly. In 1857 he was released to live in Siberia, where he contracted a marriage, which was not consummated, with the daughter of a Polish merchant. The governor of Eastern Siberia was a cousin of Bakunin’s mother, and it was probably through this connection that he obtained permission in 1861 to travel down the Amur, ostensibly on commercial business. Having reached the coast in a Russian ship, he transferred to an American vessel bound for Japan and traveled via the United States to Great Britain.


London and Marx
Bakunin’s arrival in London at the end of 1861 reunited him with Herzen, whom he had last seen in Paris in 1847 and who now occupied a preeminent position among Russian émigrés as editor of Kolokol (“The Bell”). Bakunin’s 14-month stay in London led to an irreparable rift with Herzen, who had shed some of the revolutionary ardour of his youth and had already crossed swords with the critic and novelist Nikolay Chernyshevsky and other extreme radicals of the rising Russian generation. Herzen now found Bakunin’s financial and political irresponsibility difficult to bear. When the Polish insurrection broke out early in 1863, Bakunin eagerly embarked with a shipload of Polish volunteers for the Baltic, though he got only as far as Sweden. At the beginning of 1864 he established himself in Italy, which became his residence for four years. While in Italy he framed the main outlines of the anarchist creed that he preached with unsystematic but unremitting vigour for the rest of his life. It was there, too, that he began to weave a complex network—part real, part fictitious—of interlocking secret revolutionary societies that absorbed his energies and bewildered the followers whom he enrolled in them.

The most famous episode of Bakunin’s later years was his quarrel with Marx. While living in Geneva in 1868, he joined the First International, a federation of working-class parties aimed at transforming the capitalist societies into socialist commonwealths and eventually unifying them in a world federation. At the same time, however, he enrolled his followers in a semisecret Social Democratic Alliance, which he conceived as a revolutionary avant-garde within the International. The First International was unable to contain both of the two powerful and incompatible personalities, and at a congress in 1872 at The Hague, Marx, by an intrigue that had little relation to the causes of the quarrel, secured the expulsion of Bakunin and his followers from the International. The resulting split in the revolutionary movement in Europe and the United States persisted for many years.

Two of Bakunin’s major writings, L’Empire knouto-germanique et la révolution sociale (1871; “The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution”) and Statism and Anarchy (1873), directly reflected his conflict with Marx. Bakunin was as uncompromising a revolutionary as Marx and never ceased to preach the overthrow of the existing order by violent means, but he rejected political control, centralization, and subordination to authority (while making an unconscious exception of his own authority within the movement). He denounced what he regarded as characteristically Germanic ways of thought and organization and championed instead the untutored spirit of revolt that he found embodied in the Russian peasant. Bakunin’s anarchism took final shape as the antithesis of Marx’s communism. Both personally and theoretically, Bakunin threatened all Marxists. His belief that the first act of a revolutionary movement must be the abolition of the state appealed to rank-and-file revolutionaries, and his criticism of Marx’s readiness to maintain the state until socialism was achieved—until the state led to a bureaucratic tyranny that in turn would spur revolutionary change—proved all too prescient.

During his last years, which he spent in penury in Switzerland, Bakunin reverted to his preoccupation with central and eastern Europe. He was compromised by a short-lived enthusiasm for Sergey Gennadiyevich Nechayev, a young Russian nihilist who paraded his contempt for conventional morality and who achieved notoriety by murdering a fellow conspirator whom he suspected of intending to betray or desert the cause, a crime for which Nechayev was eventually extradited to Russia by the Swiss authorities. Bakunin consorted with Russian, Polish, Serb, and Romanian émigrés—among whom he found eager disciples—drafted proclamations, and planned revolutionary organizations. His health grew worse, and his financial embarrassments became ever more acute, and he was forced to depend on the bounty of a few Italian and Swiss friends.


Assessment
Proudhon and Bakunin rank as the founders of 19th-century anarchism. Bakunin formulated no coherent body of doctrine, and his voluminous and vigorous writings were often left incomplete. However, his fame and personality inspired a large and widely dispersed following. Small anarchist groups existed in Great Britain, Switzerland, and Germany, though the powerful anarcho-syndicalist wing of the French trade unions owed more to Proudhon than to Bakunin. Anarchist movements owing allegiance to Bakunin continued to flourish in Italy and especially in Spain, where as late as 1936 the anarchists were the strongest revolutionary party.

Edward H. Carr
Alan Ryan
Ed.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 


The Russo-Japanese War and the First Revolution
 

The war against Japan was lost, which indirectly triggered the revolution of 1905, but the czar was once more able to regain control.

 

7 Alexander II was assassinated with a bomb in 1881 by members of the terrorist group Narodnaya Volya ("People's Will").
 

7 Assassination of Czar Alexander II by radical militants,
March 13, 1881, in St. Petersburg

His son and successor, 9 Alexander III, repealed many of his liberal reforms.

The authority of the zemstvos was truncated, censorship was increased, and the political police force was strengthened.

Nationalist policies were also pursued in earnest: 11 discrimination against the Jews increased, and the Russianization of ethnic minorities was pushed further.


11 Pogrom against the Jews in Russia in
the second half of the 19th century


The history of Judaism » Modern Judaism (c. 1750 to the present) » Jewish-Christian relations

Jewish-Christian relations in the 19th century were strained at best and often broke down during periods of open conflict. The established Christian churches, particularly Roman Catholicism, were staunch upholders of the old order; they identified the Jews as the major beneficiaries of the French Revolution and as the carriers of liberal, secular, anticlerical, and often revolutionary doctrines. Clerical anti-Semitism allied itself with the anti-Semitism of the traditional right in France, and both forms contended with movements that supported the results of the French Revolution in the great convulsion of the Dreyfus Affair in the last years of the 19th century. In Russia the conflict between the Jews and the Orthodox Church released the most open and virulent manifestation of religious anti-Semitism. In the view of the church, the Jews were seeking to undermine Russian Orthodoxy and the tsar, the very foundations of Russian society. The church and the tsarist authorities condoned—and even encouraged—violent pogroms against the Jews in 1881–82 and again in 1905.

Russian Orthodoxy was also active in spreading the blood libel, a superstitious belief in Jewish ritual murder of Christian children whose blood would be used to make unleavened bread at Passover. The blood libel first emerged in the 12th century and often led to the persecution of Jews; it reemerged in Damascus in 1840 (in which instance the French consul in Syria initiated the accusation) and in Tiszaeszlár, Hungary, in 1882. In both cases, torture was used to obtain false confessions, though the accused were ultimately cleared. The most infamous occurrence of the blood libel in modern times was the case of Mendel Beilis, a Jewish bookkeeper in Odessa who was accused of ritual murder by the tsarist government in 1911. Imprisoned for more than two years, he was eventually acquitted by an all-Christian jury.

From Russian Orthodox circles too arose the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a fraudulent documentation of an alleged international Jewish conspiracy to conquer the world by subverting the social order through liberalism, Freemasonry, and other modern movements. The concoction appeared about the turn of the 20th century and was proved to be a forgery by 1921. Despite this demonstration, the Protocols was widely used in anti-Semitic propaganda in Europe, the United States, and the Arab world into the 21st century.

In the 20th century, Jews and Christians moved toward mutual understanding. Although many Christians continued to hold irrational and hostile attitudes toward Jews, some liberal Christian voices were raised against anti-Semitism in the early decades of the century. In the United States the National Conference of Christians and Jews was founded in 1928 in response to the virulent anti-Semitism propagated in Henry Ford’s newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. Some Christian leaders spoke out during the 1930s against the Nazi persecution of the Jews, but the majority of Christian leaders in Europe remained silent, even during the Holocaust. In 1946, however, the World Council of Churches denounced anti-Semitism, and in 1965 the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church adopted the schema on the Jews and other non-Christian religions, which formally revised the church’s traditional attitude toward the Jews as the killers of Christ. A growing feeling of ecumenism was shared between Jews and Christians; indeed, Pope John Paul II made improved relations between Catholics and Jews a hallmark of his papacy. Although there remain many difficulties related to the question of the place that Zionism and the State of Israel hold within Judaism, the older forms of official church anti-Semitism have been radically diminished.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion


The Czar's secret police forge a document that "proves" agitation for
reform is secretly a malevolent Jewish plot to rule the world.
Audiences in other countries are quick to buy into the hoax.


fraudulent document
Main
fraudulent document that served as a pretext and rationale for anti-Semitism in the early 20th century. The document purports to be a report of a series of 24 (in other versions, 27) meetings held at Basel, Switz., in 1897, at the time of the first Zionist congress. There Jews and Freemasons were said to have made plans to disrupt Christian civilization and erect a world state under their joint rule. Liberalism and socialism were to be the means of subverting Christendom; if subversion failed, all the capitals of Europe were to be sabotaged.

The Protocols were printed in Russia in abbreviated form in 1903 in the newspaper Znamia (“Banner”) and subsequently (1905) as an addendum to a religious tract by Serge Nilus, a tsarist civil servant. They were translated into German, French, English, and other European languages and soon came to be a classic of anti-Semitic literature. In the United States Henry Ford’s private newspaper, Dearborn Independent, often cited them as evidence of a Jewish threat.

The spurious character of the Protocols was first revealed in 1921 by Philip Graves of The Times (London), who demonstrated their obvious resemblance to a satire by the French lawyer Maurice Joly on Napoleon III published in 1864 and entitled Dialogue aux Enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu (“Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu”). Subsequent investigation, particularly by the Russian historian Vladimir Burtsev, revealed that the Protocols were forgeries compounded by officials of the Russian secret police out of the satire of Joly, a fantastic novel (Biarritz) by Hermann Goedsche (1868), and other sources.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Pogrom


Pogrom

mob attack

(Russian: “devastation,” or “riot”), a mob attack, either approved or condoned by authorities, against the persons and property of a religious, racial, or national minority. The term is usually applied to attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The first extensive pogroms followed the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Although the assassin was not a Jew, and only one Jew was associated with him, false rumours aroused Russian mobs in more than 200 cities and towns to attack Jews and destroy their property. In the two decades following, pogroms gradually became less prevalent; but from 1903 to 1906 they were common throughout the country. Thereafter, to the end of the Russian monarchy, mob action against the Jews was intermittent and less widespread.

The pogrom in Kishinev (now Chisinau) in Russian-ruled Moldavia in April 1903, although more severe than most, was typical in many respects. For two days mobs, inspired by local leaders acting with official support, killed, looted, and destroyed without hindrance from police or soldiers. When troops were finally called out and the mob dispersed, 45 Jews had been killed, nearly 600 had been wounded, and 1,500 Jewish homes had been pillaged. Those responsible for inciting the outrages were not punished.

The Russian central government did not organize pogroms, as was widely believed; but the anti-Semitic policy that it carried out from 1881 to 1917 made them possible. Official persecution and harassment of Jews led the numerous anti-Semites to believe that their violence was legitimate, and their belief was strengthened by the active participation of a few high and many minor officials in fomenting attacks and by the reluctance of the government either to stop pogroms or to punish those responsible for them.

Pogroms have also occurred in other countries, notably in Poland and in Germany during the Hitler regime.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Menahem Mendel Beilis


Menahem Mendel Beilis

Menahem Mendel Beilis (1874-1934) was a Ukrainian Jew wrongly accused of murder, in a trial, known as the notorious Beilis trial, that sparked international criticism of the anti-Semitic policies of the Russian Empire.

Mendel was born in 1874 to a pious Jewish family. He had little Torah learning and worked regularly on the Sabbath and the Holy Days, with the exception of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In 1911 he was an ex-soldier and the father of five children, employed as a superintendent at the Zaitsev brick factory in Kiev. On March 12, 1911, a thirteen-year-old Ukrainian boy, Andrey Yuschinsky, disappeared on his way to school. Eight days later his mutilated body was discovered in a local cave.

A vicious anti-Semitic campaign was launched in the Russian press against the Jewish community, with accusations of the blood libel and ritual murder, using human blood for Passover.

Following the Russian Revolution of 1905, Russia was in the grip of a counter-revolution in which the Jews were the major scapegoats. The revolutionary movement was growing in scope and intensity, becoming increasingly unmanageable. The regime of Czar Nicholas II of Russia used the blood libel charge as a convenient political weapon to divert the attention of the masses from the corrupt and repressive policies of the government. Blaming the Jews for all of the ill that beset the empire took pressure away from the government.

In July 1911, a lamplighter testified that the boy has been kidnaped by a Jew and Beilis was arrested on July 21, 1911, and sent to prison, where he remained for over two years. A report submitted to Czar by the judiciary regarded him as the murderer of Yushchinsky.

The trial took place in Kiev from September 25 through October 28, 1913. The chief prosecutor A.I. Vipper made anti-Semitic statements in his closing address.

The prosecution was composed of the government's best lawyers. One prosecution witness, a "religious expert" in Judaic rituals was a Catholic priest Justin Pranaitis, brought from as far as Tashkent. He stated that the murder of Yushchinsky had all the characteristics of ritual murder commanded by the Jewish religion.

Beilis was represented by the most able counsels of the Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev bars: Vassily Maklakov, Oscar Grusenberg, N. Karabchevsky, A. Zarundy, and D. Grigorovitch-Barsky. Two prominent Russian professors, Troitsky and Kokovtzov, spoke on behalf of the defense in praise of Jewish values and exposed the falsehood of the accusations.

The lamplighter on whose testimony the indictment of Beilis rested confessed that he had been confused by the secret police.

After deliberating for several hours, a jury composed of simple Russian peasants found him not guilty. Of the twelve jurors, seven were members of the notorious Union of the Russian people, also known as the Black hundred. There was no single representative of the intelligentsia in the jury.

Later it was determined that on that tragic morning Andrey decided to skip school and visit his friend, Zhenya Cheberyak, whose mother Vera was known to have criminal connections. The Beilis trial was followed worldwide and the anti-Semitic policies of the Russian Empire were severely criticized.
Beilis with his family left Russia for the Land of Israel. In 1920 he settled in the United States. He died in 1934.

 

 

All of these measures provided a boost to the anti-czarist resistance. Although Russia was still far from industrialized—economic measures were implemented in the 1880s in order to increase factory production—socialist ideas were slowly spreading among the workers. The organizations that formed were often led by exiles. In international affairs, Russia allied with France against the Central Powers in 1890, thus establishing the constellation of the warring factions in World War I.

The last czar, 8 Nicholas II, who was crowned in 1894, continued to pursue an expansionist policy in the cast.


9 Czar Alexander III Alexandrovich, who repealed his father's reforms, portrait by Ivan Nikolajewitsch Kramskoj
Czar Nicholas II Alexandrovich by Earnest Lipgart


This brought Russia into conflict with the emerging power of Japan, which was also seeking to establish an empire on the Asian continent.

A quarrel developed over Manchuria and the 12 Russo-Japanese War began with a Japanese attack on the Russian harbor of Port Arthur.


12 Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905

Despite its numerical superiority Russia suffered defeats on both land and at sea, climaxing in a naval battle in the Strait of Tsushima in May 1905. Russia was forced to admit defeat in the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905.

Russia's humiliation in the war revealed the weaknesses of the czarist government, and this inspired a 10 revolution in 1905.

The result was a new census suffrage law that provided a conservative majority in the third Duma, the legislative assembly, which convened until 1912 but accomplished nothing. The need for change was highlighted in World War I. The October Revolution (in November by the western calendar) of 1917 resulted in the abdication of the last czar. Shortly afterwards, Nicholas II and his family were murdered in 1918.


10 Workers marching through the streets of St. Petersburg, during the 1905 Russian Revolution.
 


17 October 1905 by Ilya Repin

 

 

The "Bloody Sunday"


"Bloody Sunday" in St. Petersburg, January 22, 1905

A meeting of the zemstvos in St. Petersburg demanded democratic changes from the czar. A rally on January 22,1905 was attended by almost 200,000people. Hundreds were killed when soldiers opened fire on the orders of the czar's uncle. This "Bloody Sunday" provoked outrage nationwide.

Despite Nicholas II's October manifesto, uprisings occurred everywhere. The government ended the revolution at the beginning of 1906 with the aid of the military. The Duma that had been promised was dissolved following its protests against the new antidemocratic "fundamental law of the empire" of May 6,1905.



"Bloody Sunday" in St. Petersburg, January 22, 1905



Caricature of Nicholas II, 1905
 

 

 

 

Alexander III


Czar Alexander III Alexandrovich

emperor of Russia
Russian in full Aleksandr Aleksandrovich
born March 10 [Feb. 26, old style], 1845, St. Petersburg, Russia
died Nov. 1 [Oct. 20, O.S.], 1894, Livadiya, Crimea

Main
emperor of Russia from 1881 to 1894, opponent of representative government, and supporter of Russian nationalism. He adopted programs, based on the concepts of Orthodoxy, autocracy, and narodnost (a belief in the Russian people), that included the Russification of national minorities in the Russian Empire as well as persecution of the non-Orthodox religious groups.

The future Alexander III was the second son of Alexander II and of Maria Aleksandrovna (Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt). In disposition he bore little resemblance to his softhearted, impressionable father and still less to his refined, chivalrous, yet complex granduncle, Alexander I. He gloried in the idea of being of the same rough texture as the great majority of his subjects. His straightforward manner savoured sometimes of gruffness, while his unadorned method of expressing himself harmonized well with his roughhewn, immobile features. During the first 20 years of his life, Alexander had no prospect of succeeding to the throne. He received only the perfunctory training given to grand dukes of that period, which did not go much beyond primary and secondary instruction, acquaintance with French, English, and German, and military drill. When he became heir apparent on the death of his elder brother Nikolay in 1865, he began to study the principles of law and administration under the jurist and political philosopher K.P. Pobedonostsev, who influenced the character of his reign by instilling into his mind hatred for representative government and the belief that zeal for Orthodoxy ought to be cultivated by every tsar.

The tsesarevich Nikolay, on his deathbed, had expressed a wish that his fiancée, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, thenceforward known as Maria Fyodorovna, should marry his successor. The marriage proved a most happy one. During his years as heir apparent—from 1865 to 1881—Alexander let it be known that certain of his ideas did not coincide with the principles of the existing government. He deprecated undue foreign influence in general and German influence in particular. His father, however, occasionally ridiculed the exaggerations of the Slavophiles and based his foreign policy on the Prussian alliance. The antagonism between father and son first appeared publicly during the Franco-German War, when the Tsar sympathized with Prussia and the tsarevich Alexander with the French. It reappeared in an intermittent fashion during the years 1875–79, when the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire posed serious problems for Europe. At first the Tsarevich was more Slavophile than the government, but he was disabused of his illusions during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, when he commanded the left wing of the invading army. He was a conscientious commander, but he was mortified when most of what Russia had obtained by the Treaty of San Stefano was taken away at the Congress of Berlin under the chairmanship of the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. To this disappointment, moreover, Bismarck shortly afterward added the German alliance with Austria for the express purpose of counteracting Russian designs in eastern Europe. Although the existence of the Austro-German alliance was not disclosed to the Russians until 1887, the Tsarevich reached the conclusion that for Russia the best thing to do was to prepare for future contingencies by a radical scheme of military and naval reorganization.

On March 13 (March 1, O.S.), 1881, Alexander II was assassinated, and the following day autocratic power passed to his son. In the last years of his reign, Alexander II had been much disturbed by the spread of nihilist conspiracies. On the very day of his death he signed an ukaz creating a number of consultative commissions that might have been transformed eventually into a representative assembly. Alexander III cancelled the ukaz before it was published and in the manifesto announcing his accession stated that he had no intention of limiting the autocratic power he had inherited. All the internal reforms that he initiated were intended to correct what he considered the too liberal tendencies of the previous reign. In his opinion, Russia was to be saved from anarchical disorders and revolutionary agitation not by the parliamentary institutions and so-called liberalism of western Europe but by the three principles of Orthodoxy, autocracy, and narodnost.

Alexander’s political ideal was a nation containing only one nationality, one language, one religion, and one form of administration; and he did his utmost to prepare for the realization of this ideal by imposing the Russian language and Russian schools on his German, Polish, and Finnish subjects, by fostering Orthodoxy at the expense of other confessions, by persecuting the Jews, and by destroying the remnants of German, Polish, and Swedish institutions in the outlying provinces. In the other provinces he clipped the feeble wings of the zemstvo (an elective local administration resembling the county and parish councils in England) and placed the autonomous administration of the peasant communes under the supervision of landed proprietors appointed by the government. At the same time, he sought to strengthen and centralize the imperial administration and to bring it more under his personal control. In foreign affairs he was emphatically a man of peace but not a partisan of the doctrine of peace at any price. Though indignant at the conduct of Bismarck toward Russia, he avoided an open rupture with Germany and even revived for a time the Alliance of the Three Emperors between the rulers of Germany, Russia, and Austria. It was only in the last years of his reign, especially after the accession of William II as German emperor in 1888, that Alexander adopted a more hostile attitude toward Germany. The termination of the Russo-German alliance in 1890 drove Alexander reluctantly into an alliance with France, a country that he strongly disliked as the breeding place of revolutions. In Central Asian affairs he followed the traditional policy of gradually extending Russian domination without provoking a conflict with Great Britain, and he never allowed bellicose partisans to get out of hand.

As a whole, Alexander’s reign cannot be regarded as one of the eventful periods of Russian history; but it is arguable that under his hard, unsympathetic rule the country made some progress.

Michael T. Florinsky

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Nicholas II


Nicholas II Alexandrovich

Tsar of Russia
Russian in full Nikolay Aleksandrovich

born May 6 [May 18, New Style], 1868, Tsarskoye Selo [now Pushkin], near St. Petersburg, Russia
died July 16/17, 1918, Yekaterinburg

The last Russian emperor (1894–1917), who, with his wife, Alexandra, and their children, was killed by the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution.

Early life and reign
Nikolay Aleksandrovich was the eldest son and heir apparent (tsesarevich) of the tsarevich Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (emperor as Alexander III from 1881) and his consort Maria Fyodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark). Succeeding his father on November 1, 1894, he was crowned tsar in Moscow on May 26, 1896.

Neither by upbringing nor by temperament was Nicholas fitted for the complex tasks that awaited him as autocratic ruler of a vast empire. He had received a military education from his tutor, and his tastes and interests were those of the average young Russian officers of his day. He had few intellectual pretensions but delighted in physical exercise and the trappings of army life: uniforms, insignia, parades. Yet on formal occasions he felt ill at ease. Though he possessed great personal charm, he was by nature timid; he shunned close contact with his subjects, preferring the privacy of his family circle. His domestic life was serene. To his wife, Alexandra, whom he had married on November 26, 1894, Nicholas was passionately devoted. She had the strength of character that he lacked, and he fell completely under her sway. Under her influence he sought the advice of spiritualists and faith healers, most notably Rasputin, who eventually acquired great power over the imperial couple.

Nicholas also had other irresponsible favourites, often men of dubious probity who provided him with a distorted picture of Russian life, but one that he found more comforting than that contained in official reports. He distrusted his ministers, mainly because he felt them to be intellectually superior to himself and feared they sought to usurp his sovereign prerogatives. His view of his role as autocrat was childishly simple: he derived his authority from God, to whom alone he was responsible, and it was his sacred duty to preserve his absolute power intact. He lacked, however, the strength of will necessary in one who had such an exalted conception of his task. In pursuing the path of duty, Nicholas had to wage a continual struggle against himself, suppressing his natural indecisiveness and assuming a mask of self-confident resolution. His dedication to the dogma of autocracy was an inadequate substitute for a constructive policy, which alone could have prolonged the imperial regime.

Soon after his accession Nicholas proclaimed his uncompromising views in an address to liberal deputies from the zemstvos, the self-governing local assemblies, in which he dismissed as “senseless dreams” their aspirations to share in the work of government. He met the rising groundswell of popular unrest with intensified police repression. In foreign policy, his naïveté and lighthearted attitude toward international obligations sometimes embarrassed his professional diplomats; for example, he concluded an alliance with the German emperor William II during their meeting at Björkö in July 1905, although Russia was already allied with France, Germany’s traditional enemy.

Nicholas was the first Russian sovereign to show personal interest in Asia, visiting in 1891, while still tsesarevich, India, China, and Japan; later he nominally supervised the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. His attempt to maintain and strengthen Russian influence in Korea, where Japan also had a foothold, was partly responsible for the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05). Russia’s defeat not only frustrated Nicholas’s grandiose dreams of making Russia a great Eurasian power, with China, Tibet, and Persia under its control, but also presented him with serious problems at home, where discontent grew into the revolutionary movement of 1905.

Nicholas considered all who opposed him, regardless of their views, as malicious conspirators. Disregarding the advice of his future prime minister Sergey Yulyevich Witte, he refused to make concessions to the constitutionalists until events forced him to yield more than might have been necessary had he been more flexible. On March 3, 1905, he reluctantly agreed to create a national representative assembly, or Duma, with consultative powers, and by the manifesto of October 30 he promised a constitutional regime under which no law was to take effect without the Duma’s consent, as well as a democratic franchise and civil liberties. Nicholas, however, cared little for keeping promises extracted from him under duress. He strove to regain his former powers and ensured that in the new Fundamental Laws (May 1906) he was still designated an autocrat. He furthermore patronized an extremist right-wing organization, the Union of the Russian People, which sanctioned terrorist methods and disseminated anti-Semitic propaganda. Witte, whom he blamed for the October Manifesto, was soon dismissed, and the first two Dumas were prematurely dissolved as “insubordinate.”

Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin, who replaced Witte and carried out the coup of June 16, 1907, dissolving the second Duma, was loyal to the dynasty and a capable statesman. But the emperor distrusted him and allowed his position to be undermined by intrigue. Stolypin was one of those who dared to speak out about Rasputin’s influence and thereby incurred the displeasure of the empress. In such cases Nicholas generally hesitated but ultimately yielded to Alexandra’s pressure. To prevent exposure of the scandalous hold Rasputin had on the imperial family, Nicholas interfered arbitrarily in matters properly within the competence of the Holy Synod, backing reactionary elements against those concerned about the Orthodox church’s prestige.



Nicholas II Alexandrovich by Kustodiev Boris


World War I
After its ambitions in the Far East were checked by Japan, Russia turned its attention to the Balkans. Nicholas sympathized with the national aspirations of the Slavs and was anxious to win control of the Turkish straits but tempered his expansionist inclinations with a sincere desire to preserve peace among the Great Powers. After the assassination of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo, he tried hard to avert the impending war by diplomatic action and resisted, until July 30, 1914, the pressure of the military for general, rather than partial, mobilization.

The outbreak of World War I temporarily strengthened the monarchy, but Nicholas did little to maintain his people’s confidence. The Duma was slighted, and voluntary patriotic organizations were hampered in their efforts; the gulf between the ruling group and public opinion grew steadily wider. Alexandra turned Nicholas’s mind against the popular commander in chief, his father’s cousin the grand duke Nicholas, and on September 5, 1915, the emperor dismissed him, assuming supreme command himself. Since the emperor had no experience of war, almost all his ministers protested against this step as likely to impair the army’s morale. They were overruled, however, and soon dismissed.

Nicholas II did not, in fact, interfere unduly in operational decisions, but his departure for headquarters had serious political consequences. In his absence, supreme power in effect passed, with his approval and encouragement, to the empress. A grotesque situation resulted: in the midst of a desperate struggle for national survival, competent ministers and officials were dismissed and replaced by worthless nominees of Rasputin. The court was widely suspected of treachery, and antidynastic feeling grew apace. Conservatives plotted Nicholas’s deposition in the hope of saving the monarchy. Even the murder of Rasputin failed to dispel Nicholas’s illusions: he blindly disregarded this ominous warning, as he did those by other highly placed personages, including members of his own family. His isolation was virtually complete.


Abdication and death
When riots broke out in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) on March 8, 1917, Nicholas instructed the city commandant to take firm measures and sent troops to restore order. It was too late. The government resigned, and the Duma, supported by the army, called on the emperor to abdicate. At Pskov on March 15, with fatalistic composure, Nicholas renounced the throne—not, as he had originally intended, in favour of his son, Alexis, but in favour of his brother Michael, who refused the crown.

Nicholas was detained at Tsarskoye Selo by Prince Lvov’s provisional government. It was planned that he and his family would be sent to England; but instead, mainly because of the opposition of the Petrograd Soviet, the revolutionary Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council, they were removed to Tobolsk in Western Siberia. This step sealed their doom. In April 1918 they were taken to Yekaterinburg in the Urals.

When anti-Bolshevik “White” Russian forces approached the area, the local authorities were ordered to prevent a rescue, and on the night of July 16/17 the prisoners were all slaughtered in the cellar of the house where they had been confined. The bodies were burned, cast into an abandoned mine shaft, and then hastily buried elsewhere. A team of Russian scientists located the remains in 1976 but kept the discovery secret until after the collapse of the Soviet Union. By 1994 genetic analyses had positively identified the remains as those of Nicholas, Alexandra, three of their daughters (Anastasia, Tatiana, and Olga), and four servants. The remains were given a state funeral on July 17, 1998, and reburied in St. Petersburg in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. The remains of Alexis and of another daughter (Maria) were not found until 2007, and the following year DNA testing confirmed their identity.

On August 20, 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the emperor and his family, designating them “passion bearers” (the lowest rank of sainthood) because of the piety they had shown during their final days. On October 1, 2008, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that the executions were acts of “unfounded repression” and granted the family full rehabilitation.

John L.H. Keep

Encyclopaedia Britannica
 

 


Official engagement picture of Nicholas and Alexandra (1894)

 


Imperial family (c.1904)

 


Imperial family

 


Tsarina Alexandra with her daughter Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna (c. 1908)

 


Grand Duchesses Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Nikolaevna
playing on a swing (1908)

 


Tsarina Alexandra with her four daughters (c. 1909)

 


Tsar's children (c. 1909)

 


Imperial family

 


Imperial family

 


Tsar and his five children with Cossacks (1916)

 

 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy