We’re back at it again this week, and the topic is going to revolve all around the 1905 revolution! Some of you might have heard about Bloody Sunday or the Russo-Japanese war, but those were only two of the many events that happened in Russia at that time, shaping and evolving it to what it is today.
Like Gregory Freeze points out in chapter eight of his book “Russia: A History”, any analysis of imperial Russia at the beginning of the 20th century must note that Russia was still an Autocracy. This all was changing however, and the tension of what some call the ‘Witte Era’ was about to begin.
Sergei Witte was a very unique an interesting man that during this era became one of the most prominent and influential figures in the political scene. He was head of the Railway Ministry and also an extremely successful Finance Minister. Being the Finance Minister he made some very important decisions, and one that I think set Russia on the course for progressive political reform until it got disrupted by World War I was the creation of the ruble backed by the gold standard.
Not all things that Witte wanted done happened however even if he was such a powerful person. On October 30th, 1905 The October Manifesto, which was like a constitution for Russia was released marking the end of unlimited autocracy in Europe. The reason I say this didn’t go Witte’s way is because he had some reservations about this and challenged Nicholas II to make sure it’s what he wanted to do.
My question for you all now is, how big of an impact do YOU think the October manifesto had on Russia, and do you think that if WWI hadn’t interrupted this change happening Russia would have risen up dramatically? How big of a deal is it that Russia was ending the long-lived autocracy that had been governing the people for centuries?