The Russian Empire Joining Rome

The gradual decline of Imperial Russia came at a time when it was clear that historians of that era were not sure what would be made of the land that once was held by the Czar’s for so long.  The New York Times article “The Russian Empire — And After?” really dug into a question burning at the eve and during the Revolution of 1905.  The exact nature of how to compare this revolutions to other’s that had come before it, throughout the world.  It also hinted at the exploration of how history would compare this empires downfall and rebirth to that of the Roman Empire.  It points out the many ethnic factions within the current Imperial Russia and the major problems associated with keeping them together after there is not autocracy to hold the entire empire together.  “how about the differences between White Russians and Great Russians and little Russians?  How about the tribes of the Caucasus?  How about the Consacks, who whether of Great Russia and the Don, or of Little Russia and the Dneipher, or of any other of their tribes and subdivisions, seem to have this in common, that they are aliens and enemies in Russia.” (The Russian Empire — And After).  While the fall of the Russian Empire, did at the time involve some of the largest amount of land held by a single state at the time, and it a decade long taking process to push the wheels of change, it is not as much as this NYT article suggested, the same as the Roman Empire falling into disarray.

What I think the reporters at the time fail to recognize is not the actual divisions of ethnicity within Russia as being a problem, but the building of major political factions, such as expressed in much more detail in chapter 8 of Freeze, which are the actual drivers of the change within the empire, rather than the divisions of where and who one might consider themselves as. Although united as workers in strikes and protests across the country, they truly contained varying interests that drove for the eventual October Manifesto, the divisions are still what truly left the revolution of 1905 fully satisfying for the needs of greater Russian Society. (Freeze 252-258)  If comparing the fall of Russia to the fall of Rome, the 1905 Revolution, the workers strikes prior, and the October Manifesto would only be a mid-act scene in the greater transformation of Russia in the long-term.

NYT Article: “THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE — AND AFTER?” 1905.New York Times (1857-1922), Dec 08, 10.

Freeze: Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press,


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6 Responses to The Russian Empire Joining Rome

  1. Kelsey Shober

    This was a cool article to base your blog post on. It is an interesting way to view the Russian and Roman empires. Besides the idea that most modern thinkers really would not liken the two empires now- I think that you. Are spot on by challenging the idea of ethnic diversity as driving factions apart. Since the 1905 Revolution was a catalyst for such major political change, your point that the different political factions were to blame is a much better answer. In addition, personally I think of the Russian Revolutions (both 1905 and 1917) as a beginning of something rather than an end. This article really brought to light the significance of these political changes as less of a Western conformity and more of the fall of an empire.

  2. Thanks for presenting these contemporary views on the role of ethnicity and the national aspirations of non-Russian ethnic minorities in the 1905 revolution.

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