Life in Russia 1900
by Kai Kenneth ZENG
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Russia had the largest military at the time,
larger than that of Britain and France
The Imperial Russian Army was the land
armed force of the Russian Empire, active
from around 1721 - 1917. The Russian army
consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers
and 245,850 irregulars.
A group of Russian soldiers from the Imperial
In 1721, the Russian Orthodox Church became
a government department called Holy Synod.
The church played a significant role in many
Russia was ruled through autocracy under Tsar
Tsar Nicholas II, the autocratic ruler of Russia
In 1903, Serbia became Russia's
There was a parliament (Duma) in existence in 1906, and it was a cause
of great hope. Even though Duma was actually created by the Tsar
himself (stated in the October Manifesto) , he created it only to appease
the public (after Bloody Sunday) and to stop the revolution from occurring
(or reoccurring). He promised the public that it would be a democratic
body and would have law-making powers however, he never let it become
anything more than an advisory body which he ignored.
"Bloody Sunday" occurred in 1905, when over 3000 people
engaged in a peaceful protest requesting for a change/reform in the
government. This group was led by Father Gapon. As they marched
towards Winters Palace, the guards fired and it turned into a killing of
over 3000 people as reported by anti-government sources.
A painting showing Father Gapon and
the protesters walking towards the gates
of the Palace.
Russia's relations with Britain were poor, Britain was suspicious of Russia's
motives in Asia (especially in India). The Tsar regime was greatly disliked in
Britain despite the fact that the Royal families were cousins. However, they
did eventually become allies of convenience in 1906, as they shared a
common enemy/threat, Germany.
Russia was rivals with Austria-Hungary for the control of the
Balkans. Although they were allies in the 1870s, the alliance soon
broke when they both set their sights on Bulgaria.
Germany and Russia were good, traditional allies in the 19th Century.
However, the neutrality of Germany in the Congress of Berlin put severe strain
on the relations between the two countries. Relations deteriorated after 1891
and Russia became afraid of Germany's growing power in Europe.
France and Russia were unlikely allies as the Russians were
deeply distrustful of the French's republican government
system. However because of mutual fear of Germany, they
The Russian Empire covered
nearly 23 square kilometers
A map showing the expansion and the size of the Russian
Empire. The coloured regions are the Russian Empire.
The size of the empire made it
too difficult to be ruled by the
The capital and its largest city was St.
Biggest country in the world.
Russia laid between 40 and 80 degrees
north making for extreme climatic
There was little annual rainfall.
Long, cold winters and short, hot/warm
A tank buried in snow in the ferocious winter of
The fierce winters helped prevent Russia from invasion by
Napoleon in 1812 and by the Nazis in 1943 but it also prevented
the Tsar from sending his own troops to control revolts.
When it did rain, it resulted in enormous
amounts of mud as Hitler’s tanks found out on
the Russian Steppe in 1942.
Russia had a very diverse geography ranging
from mountains to inland seas.
Russia was hemmed in on three sides by cold
deserts or mountains and the only easy way in
and out is through the Western side through
Living conditions were poor and unhygienic
Houses were cramped and lacked insulation
making the peasants extremely vulnerable
to diseases such as pneumonia. These
diseases were fatal/lethal at the time.
They were impoverished and lived in an
endless cycle of poverty.
Agrarian based society which depended on
Wealth distribution was uneven. The rich were
extremely rich and the poor were extremely
Peasants were extremely poor.
While the rich were extremely rich and
enjoyed upper-class privlleges.
Russia had the lowest wealth per capita out of
the super powers.
Peasants were given an unbearable workload.
In Russia there were many resources: coal mining and great iron
and steel plants developed in the Ukraine, oil around Baku (where
the Nobel brothers were investors), textiles around Moscow and
engineering in the capital St Petersburg.
In 1903, the value of the
Russian currency increased due
to foreign investments suggested
by Sergei Witte.
The population of Russia was 128 million.
The majority of the population were Slavs (an
Indo-European panethnicity) but there over
200 nationalities. These groups wanted
regional autonomy and this was the cause of
many political conflicts.
The government’s policy of Russification upset
and caused resentment.
There were 5 classes in Russian
Ruling class - Tsar autocratic
ruler. Owned about 25% of all
Upper class - lesser nobles, church leaders,
military officers, top civil servants. Extremely
Commercial class - Bankers, merchants, factory
owners and shop-keepers. Becoming very
wealthy with the help of government loans and
Working class - Factory workers and street traders. Very poor.
Long hours, low wages and terrible working conditions. Mainly
lived in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Trade unions were
Peasants - Very poor, made
living off agriculture.
The population was growing because of an
increasing birth rate and a decreasing death
Majority of the population were members of
the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.
There were around 5 million Jews and 23