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: http://www.dur.ac.uk/a.k.harrington/octmanif.html