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Marshal of Nobility (Russia)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marshal of Nobility (Russian: Предводитель дворянства) was an elected position in Russian local self-government prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

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For thousands of years, the lands known today as Russia and Ukraine were inhabited by nomadic tribes and mysterious Bronze Age cultures. The only record they left were their graves. In the great open grasslands of the south, the steppe, they buried their chieftains beneath huge mounds called kurgans. The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus called these people 'Scythians'. Their lands were overrun by the same nomadic warriors who brought down the Roman Empire. The land was then settled by Slavs. They shared some language and culture, but were divided into many different tribes. Vikings from Scandinavia, known in the east as Varangians, rowed up Russia's long rivers on daring raids and trading expeditions. According to legend, the East Slavs asked a Varangian chief named Rurik to be their prince and unite the tribes. He accepted and made his capital at Novgorod. His dynasty, the Rurikids, would rule Russia for 700 years. His people called themselves the Rus, and gave their name to the land. Rurik's successor, Oleg, captured Kiev, making it the capital of a new state, Kievan Rus. A century later, seeking closer ties with the Byzantine Empire to the south, Vladimir the Great adopted their religion, and converted to Orthodox Christianity. He is still venerated today as the man who brought Christianity to Ukraine and Russia. Yaroslav the Wise codified laws and conquered new lands. His reign marked the golden age of Kievan Rus. It was amongst the most sophisticated and powerful states in Europe. But after Yaroslav's death his sons fought amongst themselves. Kievan Rus disintegrated into a patchwork of feuding princedoms... just as a deadly new threat emerged from the east. The Mongols under Genghis Khan had overrun much of Asia. Now they launched a great raid across the Caucasus Mountains, and defeated the Kievan princes at the Battle of the Kalka River, but then withdrew. 14 years later, the Mongols returned. A gigantic army led by Batu Khan overran the land. Cities that resisted were burnt, their people slaughtered. The city of Novgorod was spared because it submitted to the Mongols. Its prince, Alexander Nevsky, then saved the city again, defeating the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of the Ice, fought above a frozen lake. He remains one of Russia's most revered heroes. The Mongols ruled the land as conquerors. Their new empire was called the Golden Horde, ruled by a Khan from his new capital at Sarai. The Rus princes were his vassals. They were forced to pay tribute or suffer devastating reprisal raids. They called their oppressors 'Tatars' - they lived under 'the Tatar yoke'. Alexander Nevsky's son, Daniel, founded the Grand Principality of Moscow, which quickly grew in power. 18 years later, Dmitri Donskoi, Grand Prince of Moscow, also defeated the Tartars... at the great Battle of Kulikovo Field. After years of infighting, the Golden Horde now began to disintegrate into rival khanates. Constantinople, capital and last outpost of the once-great Byzantine Empire, fell to the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Some hailed Moscow as the 'Third Rome', the seat of Orthodox Christian faith, now Rome and Constantinople had fallen. Meanwhile, the Grand Princes of Moscow continued to expand their power, annexing Novgorod, and forging the first Russian state. At the Ugra River, Ivan III of Moscow faced down the Tatar army and forced it to retreat. Russia had finally cast off the 'Tatar yoke'. Under Grand Prince Vasili III, Moscow continued to grow in size and power. His son, Ivan IV, was crowned the first Tsar of Russia. He would be remembered as Ivan the Terrible. Ivan conquered Tatar lands in Kazan and Astrakahan, but was defeated in the Livonian War by Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Ivan's modernising reforms gave way to a reign of terror and mass executions, fuelled by his violent paranoia. Russia was still vulnerable. Raiders from the Crimean Khanate were able to burn Moscow itself. But the next year Russian forces routed the Tatars at Molodi, just south of the city. Cossacks now lived on the open steppe, a lawless region between three warring states. They were skilled horsemen who lived freely, and were often recruited by Russia and Poland to fight as mercenaries. Ivan the Terrible's own son, the Tsarevich, fell victim to one of his father's violent rages - bludgeoned to death with the royal sceptre. The Cossack adventurer Yermak Timofeyevich led the Russian conquest of Siberia, defeating Tatars and subjugating indigenous tribes. In the north, Archangelsk was founded, for the time being Russia's only sea-port linking it to western Europe, though it was icebound in winter. Ivan the Terrible was succeeded by his son Feodor I, who died childless. It was the end of the Rurikid dynasty. Ivan's advisor Boris Godunov became Tsar. But after his sudden death, his widow and teenage son were brutally murdered, and the throne seized by an impostor claiming to be Ivan the Terrible's son. He too was soon murdered. Russia slid into anarchy, the so-called 'Time of Troubles'. Rebels and foreign armies laid waste to the land, and the population was decimated by famine and plague. Polish troops occupied Moscow; Swedish troops seized Novgorod. The Russian state seemed on the verge of extinction. In 1612, Russia was in a state of anarchy. They called it 'The Time of Troubles'. The people were terrorised by war, famine and plague – up to a third of them perished. Foreign troops occupied Moscow, Smolensk and Novgorod. But then, Russia fought back. Prince Pozharsky and a merchant, Kuzma Minin, led the Russian militia to Moscow, and threw out the Polish garrison. Since 2005, this event has been commemorated every 4th November, as Russian National Unity Day. The Russian assembly, the Zemsky Sobor, realised the country had to unite behind a new ruler, and elected a 16 year old noble, Mikhail Romanov, as the next Tsar. His dynasty would rule Russia for the next 300 years. Tsar Mikhail exchanged territory for peace, winning Russia much-needed breathing-space. His son, Tsar Alexei, implemented a new legal code, the Sobornoye Ulozheniye. It turned all Russian peasants, 80% of the population, into serfs – effectively slaves - their status inherited by their children, and with no freedom to travel or choose their master. It was a system that dominated Russian rural life for the next 200 years. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Nikon, imposed religious reforms that split the church between Reformers and 'Old Believers'. It's a schism that continues to this day. Ukrainian Cossacks, rebelling against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, recognised Tsar Alexei as overlord in exchange for his military support. It led to the Thirteen Years War between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Russia emerged victorious, reclaiming Smolensk and taking control of eastern Ukraine. A revolt against Tsarist government, led by a renegade Cossack, Stenka Razin, brought anarchy to southern Russia. It was finally suppressed: Razin was brought to Moscow and executed by quartering. The sickly but highly-educated Feodor III passed many reforms. He abolished mestnichestvo, the system that had awarded government posts according to nobility rather than merit, and symbolically burned the ancient books of rank. But Feodor died aged just 19. His sister Sofia became Princess Regent, ruling on behalf of her younger brothers, the joint Tsars Ivan V and Peter I. After centuries of conflict, Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth signed a Treaty of Eternal Peace. Russia then joined 'the Holy League' in its war against the Ottoman Empire. Sofia's reign also saw the first treaty between Russia and China, establishing the frontier between the two states. At age 17, Peter I seized power from his half-sister, Sofia. Peter became the first Russian ruler to travel abroad. He toured Europe with his 'Grand Embassy', seeking allies for Russia's war against Turkey, and learning the latest developments in science and shipbuilding. The war against Turkey was successfully concluded by the Treaty of Constantinople: Russia gained Azov from Turkey's ally, the Crimean Khanate, and with it, a foothold on the Black Sea. Peter made many reforms, seeking to turn Russia into a modern, European state. He demanded Russian nobles dress and behave like Europeans. He made those who refused to shave pay a beard tax. Peter built the first Russian navy; reformed the army and government; and promoted industry, trade and education. In the Great Northern War, Russia, Poland-Lithuania and Denmark took on the dominant power in the Baltic, Sweden. The war began badly for Russia, with a disastrous defeat to Charles XII of Sweden at Narva. But Russia won a second battle of Narva... Before crushing Charles XII's army at the Battle of Poltava. On the Baltic coast, Peter completed construction of a new capital, St.Petersburg. The building of what would become Russia's second largest city among coastal marshes was a remarkable achievement, though it cost the lives of many thousands of serfs. The Great Northern War ended with the Treaty of Nystad: Russia's gains at Sweden's expense made it the new, dominant Baltic power. Four years before his death, Peter was declared 'Peter the Great, Father of His Country, Emperor of All the Russias'. Peter was succeeded by his wife Catherine; then his grandson Peter II, who died of smallpox aged just 14. Empress Anna Ioannovna, daughter of Peter the Great's half-brother Ivan V, was famed for her decadence and the influence of her German lover, Ernst Biron. During Anna's reign, Vitus Bering, a Danish explorer in Russian service, led the first expedition to chart the coast of Alaska. He also discovered the Aleutian Islands, and later gave his name to the sea that separates Russia and America. After Anna's death, her infant grand-nephew, Ivan VI, was deposed by Peter the Great's daughter, Elizabeth. Ivan VI spent his entire life in captivity, until aged 23, he was murdered by his guards during a failed rescue attempt. Elizabeth, meanwhile, was famed for her vanity, extravagance, and many young lovers. But she was also capable of decisive leadership: in alliance with France and Austria, Elizabeth led Russia into the Seven Years War against Frederick the Great of Prussia. The Russian army inflicted a crushing defeat on Frederick at the Battle of Kunersdorf, but failed to exploit its victory. Meanwhile in St.Petersburg, the Winter Palace was completed at vast expense. It would remain the monarch's official residence, right up until the Russian Revolution of 1917. Peter III was Peter the Great's grandson by his elder daughter Anna Petrovna, who'd died as a consequence of childbirth. Raised in Denmark, Peter spoke hardly any Russian, and greatly admired Russia's enemy, Frederick the Great - so he had Russia swap sides in the Seven Years War, saving Frederick from almost certain defeat. Peter's actions angered many army officers. And he'd always been despised by his German wife, Catherine. Together they deposed Peter III, who died a week later in suspicious circumstances. His wife Catherine became Empress of Russia. Her reign would be remembered as one of Russia's most glorious... In the early 1700s, Peter the Great's reforms put Russia on the path to becoming a great European power. But it was his grandson's German wife, Catherine, who deposed her husband to become Empress of Russia, who oversaw the completion of that transformation. Like Peter, she too would be remembered as 'the Great'. Catherine was a student and admirer of the French Enlightenment, and even corresponded with the French philosopher Voltaire. She reigned as an 'enlightened autocrat' – her power was unchecked, but she pursued ideals of reason, tolerance and progress: Catherine became a great patron of the arts, and learning. Schools and colleges were built, the Bolshoi theatre was founded, as well as the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, while her own magnificent collection of artwork now forms the basis of the world-famous Hermitage museum. Catherine encouraged Europeans to move to Russia to share their expertise, and helped German migrants to settle in the Volga region, where they became known as 'Volga Germans'. Their communities survived nearly 200 years, until on Stalin's orders, they were deported east at the start of World War 2. Catherine's reign also saw enormous territorial expansion. In the south, Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire, winning new lands, and the fortresses of Azov and Kerch. But then Catherine faced a major peasant revolt led by the renegade cossack Yemelyan Pugachev. The rebels took many fortresses and towns, and stormed the city of Kazan, before they were finally defeated by the Russian army. Catherine then forcibly incorporated the Zaporozhian Cossacks into the Russian Empire, and annexed the Crimean Khanate – a thorn in Russia's side for 300 years. Russia's new lands in the south were named Novorossiya - 'New Russia'. Sparsely populated, they were settled by Russian colonists under the supervision of Prince Potemkin, Catherine's advisor and lover. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, exhausted by war and at the mercy of its neighbours, was carved up in a series of partitions, with Russia taking the lion's share. Poland did not re-emerge as an independent nation until 1918. Russia inherited a large Jewish population from Poland, who, Catherine decreed, could live only in the so-called 'Pale of Settlement', and were excluded from most cities. In France, the French Revolution led to the execution of King Louis XVI. Catherine was horrified, and in the last years of her reign, completely turned her back on the liberal idealism of her youth. Three years later, Catherine died, ending one of the most glorious reigns in Russian history. She was succeeded by her son, Paul, a man obsessed by military discipline and detail, and opposed to all his mother's works. Russia joined the coalition of European powers fighting Revolutionary France. Marshal Suvorov, one of Russia's greatest military commanders, won a series of victories against the French in Northern Italy, but the wider war was a failure. Meanwhile, Paul's reforms had alienated Russia's army and nobility, and he was murdered in a palace coup. He was succeeded by his 23 year old son Alexander, who shared his grandmother Catherine's vision for a more modern Russian state. His advisor, the brilliant Count Mikhail Speranksy, reformed administration and finance, yet the Emperor refused to back his plans for a liberal constitution. Ultimately, it was war with France that would dominate Alexander's reign... France had a new emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, who inflicted a series of defeats on Russia and her allies at Austerlitz, Eylau and Friedland. But at Tilsit in 1807, the two young emperors met, and made an alliance. Russia attacked Sweden, annexing Finland, which became an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. But then, in 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia. At Borodino, French and Russian armies clashed in a gigantic battle, one of the bloodiest of the age. Napoleon emerged victorious, but the Russian army escaped intact. Napoleon occupied Moscow, which was destroyed by fire. And when Alexander refused to negotiate, the French army was forced to make a long retreat through the Russian winter, and was annihilated. Napoleon had been dealt a mortal blow. And Russia, alongside Prussia, Austria and Britain, then led the fight back, which ended in the capture of Paris and Napoleon's abdication. At the Congress of Vienna, as part of the spoils of war, Alexander became 'King of Poland'. Then, with Austria, and Prussia, he formed 'The Holy Alliance', with the aim of preventing further revolutions in Europe. Meanwhile, in the Balkans and Caucasus, Russia had been waging intermittent wars against the Ottoman Empire, Persia and local tribes. The frontier had been pushed south to incorporate Bessarabia, Circassia, Chechnya, and much of modern Georgia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. But the peoples of the Caucasus bitterly resisted Russian rule. Russia's attempt to impose its authority on the region led to the Caucasian War, a brutal conflict, fought amongst the mountains and forests, that would drag on for nearly 50 years. Alexander was succeeded by his brother Nicholas, a conservative and reactionary. But parts of Russian society had now developed an appetite for European-style liberalism – including certain army officers, who'd seen other ways of doing things during the Napoleonic Wars. They saw Nicholas as an obstacle, and the new Emperor's first challenge... would be military revolt. 1825. Victory over Napoleon had confirmed Russia's status as a world power. But there was discontent within Russia amongst intellectuals and army officers, some of whom had formed secret societies, to plot the overthrow of Russia's autocratic system. When Emperor Alexander was succeeded not, as expected, by his brother Constantine, but by a younger brother, Nicholas, one of these secret societies used the confusion to launch a military coup. But the Decembrist Revolt, as it became known, was defeated by loyalist troops, and the ringleaders were hanged. Others were sent into 'internal exile' in Siberia. This was to become a common sentence for criminals and political prisoners in Tsarist Russia. Nicholas went on to adopt an official doctrine of 'Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality' – the state was to rest on the pillars of church, Tsar, and the Russian national spirit - a clear rejection of the values of European liberalism. In the Caucasus, border clashes with Persia led to a war which ended in complete Russian victory. The Treaty of Turkmenchay forced Persia to cede all its territories in the region to Russia, and pay a large indemnity. Russian support for Greece in its War of Independence against the Ottomans, led to war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Russian victory brought further gains in the Black Sea region. A Polish revolt, led by young army officers, was crushed by Russian troops. Alexander Pushkin, Russia's greatest poet, was shot in a duel, and two days later died from his wounds. Nicholas sent troops to help put down a Hungarian revolt against Austrian rule. The Emperor's willingness to help suppress liberal revolts won him the nickname, 'the Gendarme', or policeman, of Europe. Russia's first major railway was opened, connecting St.Petersburg and Moscow. Alexander Herzen, a leading intellectual critic of Russia's autocracy, emigrated to London, where he continued to call for reform in his homeland. He'd later be described as 'the father of Russian socialism'. The Ottoman Empire, now known as 'the sick man of Europe', reacted to further Russian provocations by declaring war. The Russian Black Sea Fleet inflicted a crushing defeat on the Turks at the Battle of Sinope. But Britain and France - alarmed at Russia's southern expansion, and potential control of Constantinople – declared war on Russia. The Allies landed troops in Crimea and besieged the naval base of Sevastopol, which fell after a gruelling, year-long siege. In the Baltic, British and French warships blockaded the Russian capital, St.Petersburg. Russia was forced to sign a humiliating peace, withdraw its forces from the Black Sea, and put on hold plans for further southern expansion. Nicholas I was succeeded by his son, Alexander II. The Crimean War had exposed Russia's weakness – the country lagged far behind its European rivals in industry, infrastructure and military power. So Alexander, unlike his father, decided to embrace reform. The most obvious sign of Russia's backwardness was serfdom. According to the 1857 census, more than a third of Russians were serfs, forced to work their masters' land, with few rights, restrictions on movement, and their status passed down to their children. They were slaves in all but name. In 1861, Alexander II abolished serfdom in Russia. He was hailed as 'The Liberator'. But in reality, most former-serfs remained trapped in servitude and poverty. Alexander's reforms would continue, with the creation of the zemstva - provincial assemblies with authority over local affairs, including education and social welfare. In the Far East, Russia forced territorial concessions from a weakened China, leading to the founding of Vladivostok, Russia's major Pacific port. Another uprising by Poles and Lithuanians against Russian rule was once more crushed by the Russian army. In the Caucasus, Russia's long and brutal war against local tribes came to an end, with their leaders swearing oaths of loyalty to the Tsar. In Central Asia, the Russian Empire was gradually expanding southwards. Russian armies defeated the Emirate of Bukhara, and the Khanate of Khiva, and by the 1880s, Russia had conquered most of what was then called Turkestan – today, the countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Imperial rivalry in Central Asia between Russia and Britain led to 'the Great Game' – a 19th century version of the Cold War. Centred on Afghanistan, diplomats and spies on both sides tried to win local support, extend their own influence, and limit the expansion of their rival - while avoiding direct military confrontation. Russia decided to sell Alaska to America for 7.2 million dollars. Many Americans thought it was a waste of money – gold and oil were only discovered there much later. Leo Tolstoy's 'War & Peace' was published, still regarded as one of the world's greatest works of literature. The late 19th century was a cultural golden age for Russia: a period of literary greats, and outstanding composers. Russia, in support of nationalist revolts in the Balkans against Ottoman rule, went to war with the Ottoman Empire once more. Russian troops crossed the Danube... then, with Bulgarian help, fought to secure the vital Shipka Pass. Then they launched a bloody, five-month siege of Plevna, in Bulgaria. Russia and her allies finally won victory, with their troops threatening Constantinople itself. But at the Congress of Berlin, Russia bowed to international pressure, and accepted limited gains, in a settlement that also led to independence for Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and later, Bulgaria. Meanwhile, within Russia, radical political groups were increasingly frustrated by Alexander II's limited reforms. There were several failed attempts to assassinate the Emperor. But as he prepared to approve new constitutional reforms, he was killed in St.Petersburg by a bomb thrown by members of the People's Will – one of the world's first modern terrorist groups. This act of violence would lead only to a new era of repression. In 1881, Russian Emperor Alexander II was assassinated by left-wing terrorists in St.Petersburg. Today, the place where he was fatally wounded is marked by the magnificent Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Alexander II had been a reformer, hailed as 'the Liberator' for freeing Russia's serfs. But his son and successor, Alexander III, believed his father's reforms had unleashed dangerous forces within Russia, that ultimately led to his death. As Emperor, he publicly vowed to reassert autocratic rule, declaring that, 'in the midst of our great grief, the voice of God orders us to undertake courageously the task of ruling, with faith in the strength and rightness of autocratic power.' The Tsar's secret police, the so-called 'Okhranka', was ordered to infiltrate Russia's many revolutionary groups. Those found guilty of plotting against the government were hanged or sent into 'internal exile' in Siberia. Alexander III was a pious man, who supported the Orthodox church, and the assertion of a strong Russian national identity. Russia's Jews became victims of this policy. They'd already been targeted in murderous race riots known as 'pogroms', after false rumours were spread that they were responsible for the assassination of the emperor. Now the government expelled 20,000 Jews from Moscow, and many who could began to leave the country. Over the next 40 years, around two million Jews would leave Russia, most bound for the USA. Concerned by the growing power of Germany, Russia signed an alliance with France, both sides promising military aid if the other was attacked. Sergei Witte was appointed Russia's new Minister of Finance. His reforms helped to modernise the Russian economy, and encourage foreign investment – particularly from its new ally, France. French loans helped Russia to develop its industry and infrastructure: Work began on the Trans-Siberian railway. Completed in 1916, it remains the world's longest railway line, running 5,772 miles from Moscow to Vladivostok. Alexander III was succeeded by his son Nicholas II. His coronation was marred by tragedy, when 1,400 people were crushed to death at an open-air celebration in Moscow. China granted Russia the right to build a naval base at Port Arthur. When China faced a major revolt known as the Boxer Rebellion, Russia moved troops into Manchuria, under the pretext of defending Port Arthur from the rebels. This brought Russia into conflict with Japan, who also had designs over Manchuria, and Korea. The Japanese made a surprise attack on Port Arthur, then defeated the Russian army at the giant Battle of Mukden. Russia's Baltic Fleet, meanwhile, had sailed half way around the world to reach the Pacific... where it was immediately annihilated at the Battle of Tsushima. Russia was left with no option but to sign a humiliating peace, brokered by US President Theodore Roosevelt. Meanwhile the Tsar faced another crisis much closer to home. In St.Petersburg, a strike by steel-workers had escalated, and plans were made for a mass demonstration. Tens of thousands of protesters marched to the Winter Palace to present a petition to the Tsar, asking for better workers' rights and more political freedom. But instead, troops opened fire on the crowds, killing more than 100. 'Bloody Sunday', as it became known, led to more strikes and unrest across the country. The crew of the battleship Potemkin mutinied, killing their officers and taking control of the ship. To defuse the crisis, Nicholas II reluctantly issued the October Manifesto, drafted under the supervision of Sergei Witte. It promised an elected assembly and new political rights, including freedom of speech, and was welcomed by most moderates. Russia's first constitution was drafted the next year. For the first time, the Tsar would share power with an elected assembly, the state duma – though the Tsar had the right to veto its legislation, and dissolve it at any time. Sergei Witte finally lost the Tsar's confidence, and was dismissed. The Tsar's new Prime Minister, Stolypin, introduced land reforms to help the peasants, while dealing severely with Russia's would-be revolutionaries. So much so, that the hangman's noose got a new nickname - 'Stolypin's necktie'. But having survived several attempts on his life, Stolypin was shot and killed by an assassin at the Kiev Opera House. Meanwhile, Grigori Rasputin, a Siberian faith healer, had joined the Imperial family's inner circle, thanks to his unique ability to ease the suffering of the Tsar's haemophiliac son, Alexei. Despite sporadic acts of terrorism, Russia now had the fastest growing economy in Europe. Agricultural and industrial output were on the rise. Most ordinary Russians remained loyal to the Tsar and his family. Russia's future seemed bright. In 1914, in Sarajevo, a Slav nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, sparking a European crisis. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Emperor Nicholas ordered the Russian army to mobilise, to show his support for a fellow Slav nation. Austria-Hungary's ally, Germany, saw Russian mobilisation as a threat, and declared war. Europe's network of alliances came into effect, and soon all the major powers were marching to war. World War One had begun. Russia experienced a wave of patriotic fervour. The capital, St.Petersburg, was even renamed Petrograd, to sound less German. An early Russian advance into East Prussia ended with heavy defeats at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. There was greater success against Austria-Hungary, but that too came at a high price. Russian losses forced the army to make a general retreat in 1915. In 1916, Russia's Brusilov Offensive against Austro-Hungarian forces was one of the most successful Allied attacks of the war. But losses were so heavy, that the Russian army was unable to launch any more major operations. In Petrograd, Rasputin, whose alleged influence over the Tsar's family was despised by certain Russian aristocrats, was murdered, possibly with the help of British agents. The war put intolerable strains on Russia. At the front, losses were enormous. While in the cities, economic mismanagement led to rising prices and food shortages. In Petrograd, the workers' frustration led to strikes and demonstrations. Troops ordered to disperse the crowds refused, and joined the protesters instead. The government had lost control of the capital. On board the imperial train at Pskov, senior politicians and generals told the Emperor he must abdicate, or Russia would descend into anarchy, and lose the war. Nicholas accepted their advice, and renounced the throne in favour of his brother, Grand Duke Michael, who, effectively, declined the offer. 300 years of Romanov rule were at an end. Russia was now a republic. A Provisional Government took power, but could not halt Russia's slide into economic and military chaos. Meanwhile, workers, soldiers and peasants elected their own councils, known as 'soviets'. The Petrograd Soviet was so powerful, it was effectively a rival government, especially as discontent with the Provisional Government continued to grow. The Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Lenin, attracted growing support, with their radical proposals for an immediate end to the war, the redistribution of land, and transfer of power to the soviets. In October, they launched a coup, masterminded by Leon Trotsky. Bolshevik Red Guards stormed the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government met, and arrested its members. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were now in charge. Russia had been thrown upon a bold and dangerous course - under a Marxist-inspired revolutionary party, it would now seek to create the world's first communist state. But first, it would have to survive the chaos and slaughter of one of history's bloodiest civil wars. Thank you to all our Patreon supporters who made this video possible. Please click the link to find out how you can support the channel, and help us choose future topics.


The nobility of each governorate formed a corporation, the Noble Society (ru:Дворянское общество), governed by the Assembly of Nobility with an elected Marshal of Nobility at its head. Each subdivision of a governorate (uyezd) also had its elected Marshal of Nobility.

Besides the Assembly of Nobility, Marshals of Nobility also chaired several local boards including the council of Justices of the peace, local education boards, boards that administered drafting of the men into the army, etc.

After creation of all-estate Zemstvo local self-government system, Marshals of Nobility presided over Zemstvo assemblies.

External links

This page was last edited on 14 March 2017, at 20:39
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