Author Topic: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?  (Read 11586 times)

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Offline EL KAISER

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Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« on: March 03, 2016, 10:36:19 PM »
Hi! Well, my doubt:
Historically, the russian peasantry has always have a father-son relationship with the tsar, whom they saw as "their father" and as apointed by god. In many pages/posts on the internet i've read that one of the reasons the Tsar survived the 1905 revolution was because, despite bloody sunday, the majority of peasants (wich were the 80 % of the population) still held this view of the Tsar as their divine father, and so they did't revolt against him (note that they held that view in such a modern period like 1905). My question is: In the period from 1908 (when order was restablished) to 1914 (when WW1 began) was the peasantry still supportive to the Tsar? Did still some of them view the tsar as their "father" or the truly legitimate leader, etc.? Please note I'M NOT talking about people in general (workers, middle classes, aristocracy) but about the PEASANTRY. I want to know this because no matter how much i search i cannot really comprenhend if the tsar was still loved by the peasants in 1914 or if he wasn't!
Thank you!

Offline Превед

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2016, 12:14:30 PM »
It's little use to wonder or debate whether the peasants "loved the Tsar". My impression is that the Russian peasants, most of whom were illiterate untill the Revolution, revered the Tsar as God's representative on earth. (With all the superstition that involved.) They regarded the Tsar as their батьушка, bat'ushka, little father, el papi, supposed to protect them against their landlords, which they regarded as cruel, unjust, greedy and corrupt. The Tsar represented their hope of justice in this world. When the peasants suffered injustice or cruelty from their landlords, the authorities or capitalists they usually blamed the landlords / nobility, the Tsars corrupt underlings, the Jews (often employed as agents of the landlords or grain merchants) etc., believing / hoping that "if only the Tsar knew" he would correct these injustices and punish his corrupt servants.

With more and more peasants commuting between industrial work in the cities and seasonal work in their rural villages more and more radical ideas and a more nuanced picture of the true role played by the Tsar in the increasingly capitalist and less and less feudal society of Russia spread to the peasants.

The peasants had always believed that all the land was theirs, but that the landlords had stolen it together with the imposition of serfdom in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Tsar represented their hope that the land one day would revert back to them. When serfdom was abolished without all the land being redistributed and peasants were allowed to quit the village commune (the mir), those peasants who came out unfavourably with no or little land would probably regard the Tsar as having broken his promise.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2016, 12:36:00 PM by Превед »
Березы севера мне милы,
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: Ивы и березы, 1843 / 1856)

Offline TimM

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2016, 06:06:11 AM »
Those poor sods.  They hoped the revolution would make things better.  Instead it ushered in a horror much worse than any Tsar.

Nearly a century later, the Russian people are still reeking a bitter harvest from the events of 1917-18.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2016, 01:57:19 PM »
Certainly in the 18th century and earlier there was a view among the peasantry that the Tsar was always just; therefore an unjust ruler could not be a true Tsar. This was one of the factors in the success of the impostor Pugachev, and, earlier, the various False Dimitris (though they had Polish backing in addition).

A rather similar philosophy applied in medieval England. A king who ruled oppressively was led astray be his evil counsellors, and all would be well if the evil counsellors were removed. Note that the leaders of the Peasants' Revolt sought to treat directly with the young Richard II, and it was Richard himself who prevented a bloodbath by announcing that he was'your captain and your leader'.

Ann

Offline edubs31

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2016, 02:12:56 PM »
If you believe the Tsar was held favorably with an overwhelming majority of peasants in 1905, why would his popularity have declined in the ensuing years? If anything it stands to reason that having brought some measure of stability to back Russia over the 1908-1914 time period would only have increased his popularity.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline TimM

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2016, 06:58:10 AM »
Nicholas II's main flaw was his stubborn believe in the Autocracy, a system that simply no longer worked.  Had he become a Constitutional Monarch, he might have avoided his horrible ending.

Offline starik

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2016, 11:16:45 AM »
My impression of peasants loving the Tsar depends on the rural/urban divide. It also seems as though opinion often split families - didn't Yurovsky recall how infuriated he was with his father's blind allegiance (if not actually love) to the Tsar? As far as avoiding the revolution by making concessions, it seems the dedicated revolutionary movement, now almost a century old, viewed it as weakness. A Tsar could have gave Russians a Constitution and a Bill of Rights and it would only have infuriated the revolutionaries, making them desperate less the Tsar succeed. They wanted ALL power - not a benevolent Tsar. The worse for Russia the better for them. The only way for Nicholas to avoid his fate was to go into exile or rule like Stalin. Thoroughly brutal against any and all possible threats, forcing people to not only refrain from subversion, but to go out of their way to demonstrate their loyalty - by informing on others. There was a reason the Red Tsar died in old age, while Romanovs rarely did. There was no middle ground for the last Romanov.

Offline Превед

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2016, 06:10:13 PM »
I highly recommend the book "Echoes of a Native Land - Two Centuries of a Russian Village" by Serge Schmemann discussed in this thread for an up-close picture of political sentiments in a typical Russian village in the years leading up to the Revolution. As starik points out attitudes towards landowners / authorities / government / the Emperor could be rather divided among the villagers, depending on their social standing, age and level of education. Also between villages, based on which kind of landlord they had. The book, a family memoir of an estate from the perspective of an objective descendant of the landowners, chronicles both home-grown firm Socialist rejection of the existing order and gratefulness towards the (former) landowner for having assisted "his peasants" against the incompetent and corrupt Tsarist authorities.

The theme of the peasants belief that all the land originally was theirs surfaced once again in the book: The peasants argued: The landlord may own us (as serfs), but we own the land. I.e. the nobles owned the land by owning the peasants, who were bound to the land. When serfdom disappeared, so did the landlords' right to the land.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2016, 06:20:29 PM by Превед »
Березы севера мне милы,
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: Ивы и березы, 1843 / 1856)

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2016, 06:10:40 AM »
Nicholas II's main flaw was his stubborn believe in the Autocracy, a system that simply no longer worked.  Had he become a Constitutional Monarch, he might have avoided his horrible ending.

If only  I were paid one dollar evey time I see that claim made. OK, Nicholas II chooses to go ahead with constitutional Monarchy, a liberal parlamentary system and the rest of it. Who should have taken the lead in that new Russia? It would have looked very much like the Provisional government after March 1917.

Have you read anything about those Duma characters? The Constitutional-Democrats and their support of terrorism, Guchkov publishing the "Rasputin letters" of Alexandra, the corruption in the War Committees, the Myasoedov affair (the lynching of an inocent man)... Do they look like reliable statesmen? 

Offline TimM

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2016, 07:10:42 AM »
Alexander Kerensky seemed like a decent fellow.  He would have made a good leader.

The point was that the Autocracy was beyond all hope of repair.  It was an outdated relic of another time. 

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2016, 03:06:02 PM »
The Provisional Government were well-meaning, but the situation had gone too far for any peaceful resolution by a group of moderates.

Ann

Offline TimM

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2016, 07:30:32 AM »
If Nicholas had become a Constitutional Monarch in 1905, believe that thing might not have ended so badly for him and his family. 

Since he would no longer be directly running Russia, any future failures in government would not be on him.   So maybe all the hate towards him would  not have been there.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2016, 04:08:26 PM »
I highly recommend the book "Echoes of a Native Land - Two Centuries of a Russian Village" by Serge Schmemann discussed in this thread for an up-close picture of political sentiments in a typical Russian village in the years leading up to the Revolution. As starik points out attitudes towards landowners / authorities / government / the Emperor could be rather divided among the villagers, depending on their social standing, age and level of education. Also between villages, based on which kind of landlord they had. The book, a family memoir of an estate from the perspective of an objective descendant of the landowners, chronicles both home-grown firm Socialist rejection of the existing order and gratefulness towards the (former) landowner for having assisted "his peasants" against the incompetent and corrupt Tsarist authorities.

The theme of the peasants belief that all the land originally was theirs surfaced once again in the book: The peasants argued: The landlord may own us (as serfs), but we own the land. I.e. the nobles owned the land by owning the peasants, who were bound to the land. When serfdom disappeared, so did the landlords' right to the land.

Specifically how was the Tsar viewed however? Or even more specifically was there any difference in how a Nicholas II was viewed from his father, Alexander III?

I've always read that the Tsar was looked upon as a distant almost mythic figure...a Saint of sorts, appointed by God himself but with the same flaws as an ordinary human being. Christ-like if not aspiring to Christ himself. Their plight - or so they believed - had to do with the structure of the Russian bureaucracy (landlords, ministers, etc.) deliberately misleading or cutting the benevolent Tsar off from his subjects and their needs & concerns.

On the other hand I always found this a rather simplistic explanation that fails to take into account the unique views of the individual peasants, or at least the prevailing sentiments that likely differed from one village to the next - as you point out.

Another good if somewhat obvious reference to this topic can be found in Figes "A People's Tragedy". If memory serves Figes suggests that most of the peasantry class in the years leading up to and including the revolution either cared little about the who was in control of the centralized government (be it Tsar, President, General Secretary, etc.) or we're simply too caught off an under-educated to understand how it affecting them.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2016, 03:52:35 AM »
I would add that in a huge country like Russia, the monarch was literally distant.

When in Russia,  Nicholas and Alexander III were nearly always in the environs of St Petersburg or in the Crimea.

At that time, Britain had developed a 'public service monarchy', in which royalty regularly made official visits across the country, opened hospitals, bridges and the like. All this was reported in the popular press, and with a literate population, newspapers were widely read.

So the British working man and his family  could read in the Daily Mail that Prince Arthur of Connaught had opened the Middlesbrough transporter bridge (he did), but their Russian counterparts would we little or nothing of the doings of Nicholas and the wider imperial family.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Was the Tsar loved after 1905?
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2016, 10:11:00 AM »
I would add that in a huge country like Russia, the monarch was literally distant.

When in Russia,  Nicholas and Alexander III were nearly always in the environs of St Petersburg or in the Crimea.

At that time, Britain had developed a 'public service monarchy', in which royalty regularly made official visits across the country, opened hospitals, bridges and the like. All this was reported in the popular press, and with a literate population, newspapers were widely read.

So the British working man and his family  could read in the Daily Mail that Prince Arthur of Connaught had opened the Middlesbrough transporter bridge (he did), but their Russian counterparts would we little or nothing of the doings of Nicholas and the wider imperial family.

I agree Ann. To your last point however, how much do you think this worked in favor or against the Tsar regarding his less-educated and remotely located subjects (i.e. peasants)?

Couldn't it be argued that their ignorance helped to kept the Tsar and his family iconic/mythic figures in their hearts & minds? This would seem to have worked in the Tsar's favor, yes? Or did that lack of contact and knowledge about the goings on of their leaders create an emotional distance to go along with the physical distance they experienced.

Certainly the Empress's charitable work and much publicized nursing activities did little to inspire and convince the much more literate masses of St. Petersburg (and other larger urban areas) of the Imperial Family's righteousness in the face of terrible loss & tragedy. So was the Tsar more the beneficiary of the "myth" or would he had benifitted more from this outreach and visibility you speak of?
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...