The Intentions of the October Manifesto


In the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto.  This document was an effort to end the autocracy of the Russian empire, create a constitutional monarchy, guarantee certain civil liberties to citizens, and include more socio-economic classes in the political process.  This could be compared to the Articles in Confederation in the United States: it put forth a good effort in governing its people, but it just didn’t cut it.

If you look into the events leading up to the October Manifesto, you may also find that the intentions of Nicholas II were not as civil as the document may imply.  He did not issue the manifesto out of good-will and want for change, it was out of desperation.

The people of Russia expressed their desperation for change with Bloody Sunday and it was reiterated time after time with peasant revolts.  Britain was pressuring the imperial government to change its’ policies and to stop its’ obvious antisemitism.  The Russo-Japanese war was also particularly embarrassing for the tsar due to his own army mutinying and losing the lives of many Russian soldiers.  Nicholas II needed to show the people of Russia and leaders of other countries that he was actively implementing change to their benefit, whether he wanted to or not.  Count Witte, his adviser, even told the tsar that repression would not work because the army was disloyal and a constitutional document was the only choice.

I believe that intention is everything.  For that reason, I believe that the October Manifesto, which was the precedent for the Fundamental Laws (constitution), did not work in the long run because its’ intention was not to improve Russia.  Its’ intention was to appease the revolutionaries and to divide them in order to weaken the revolution.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think that Nicholas II was forced to issue the October Manifesto or did he have other options and chose this route?



The October Manifesto:



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4 Responses to The Intentions of the October Manifesto

  1. Austin Wood

    I think you brought up an interesting question at the end when asking if the Tsar was forced to issue the manifesto or if he had other options. I’d like to say that he had other options, but wanted to choose something that would change Russia for the better and finally let citizens have some freedom. Unfortunately, I don’t think that was the case. I think that he was forced, specifically because of the unrest of Russia and the constant urging of Witte. Especially since Russia had been an autocracy so long, I find it easy to believe that Nicholas II had a rough time giving up a lot of his power even if it was to appease the people.

  2. Ben Midas

    This is a really good post. The fact that Nicholas did not really want the Manifesto in the first place is very important to consider while discussing the Manifestos successes and failures. Good job!

  3. jackscher

    I agree with you. The October Manifesto does seem like a cheap way of trying to appease the revolutionaries.

    I also liked the comparison to the Articles of Confederation. Nice job!

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