However, Nicholas II lived in a world which had completely changed and quite a number of Russians could no longer take the repression lying down. These individuals tended to take up arms and form resistance movements against the state, and their numbers continued to grow as the Russian government became ever more repressive. The widespread civil unrest that was caused by the tsar’s brutal repression forced him to make concessions to the opposition in order to be able to secure his position, but these concessions only provided temporary security for Nicholas II, since it loosened his hold on power.
Among these concessions was his presiding over the creation of the first constitution that Russia had ever had in its history and with its coming to force, the tsar lost most of his autocratic powers over the states to his rivals. Aristocracy Becoming Alienated from the People The century before the revolution had seen most of the members of the Russian ruling class drifting away from their people as they became more involved with the aristocracies of Western Europe. This made them lose touch with the realities of life among their own people as they became insensitive to their needs, whether social, economic, or political.
Most of the Russian aristocracy instead became involved in their own pleasures, extracting taxes from the populace to fund their increasingly lavish lifestyles and living in a manner which was completely alien to their people. The Russian aristocracy was immensely influenced by that of Western Europe and it adopted the characteristics of other European aristocracies despite the fact that their backgrounds were completely different. 3 Most of the European states at the time were slowly but surely evolving into democracies and while most of the population was not well off, they were allowed participation in the domestic political processes.
In this way, the aristocrats in the rest of Europe managed to secure themselves against any form of revolutions while at the same time ensuring that they maintained their wealth and status. This was not the case with the Russian aristocracy which, while living a lifestyle similar to that of Western European aristocracy, did not allow the common Russians to take an active part in the political process.
In addition, because of their need to achieve the status of their European counterparts, the aristocracy mercilessly exploited the population in order to gain the wealth to fund their lifestyles; this despite the fact that Russia was a poor country. 4 In addition, the Romanovs, who were the Russian ruling family, from the time of Peter the Great onwards had modeled themselves on European royal houses, intermarrying with them and absorbing their culture, thus alienating them from their own people.
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