The emperor Mykola II’s attitude to the peasant issue in the Russian empire (1894–1917)

Main Article Content

Nataliia А. Kovalova
Аlona А. Shmaliukh


Introduction. As a result of the fact that the government of the Russian Empire implemented the policy
of accelerated industrial development and that indirect taxes increased at the turn of the 19th – 20th centuries, the
noble and peasant issue in the state became aggravated. The nobles suffered from the loss of lands, and peasants
were deprived of them because of high prices for the land rent and high taxes. The procrastination and ineffectiveness
of government measures to resolve the peasant issue resulted in an intensifi cation of political and social struggle, and
then its transformation into the peasant revolution.
The historical literature covers in detail the specifi cs of the peasant issue in early 20th century, government
policy to resolve it, peasant demonstrations and the noblemen’s problems. The attitude of the last Russian emperor
Mykola II to the peasant issue needs comprehensive studying as іt can reveal the causes and course of the peasant
revolution in the Russian Empire in early 20th century (until 1917).
Purpose. The purpose of this study is to present the emperor Mykola II’s views and directions of his activities to
resolve the peasant issue in the Russian Empire.
Results. The authors identify main directions of the emperor’s activity concerning peasant issue which were
refl ected in his «Diaries»: methods of noblemen’s and peasants’ deputations, reaction to the manifestations of the
peasant revolution (1902, 1905–1906), evaluation of the Second State Duma and the acquaintance with the results of
Stolypin land reform. The offi cial receptions of peasant deputations took place on the occasion of religious holidays,
state events (celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, the 50th anniversary of peasant reform, the
300th anniversary of Romanov family’s reign), important events for the emperor’s family etc. Peasant demonstrations
in 1902 in Poltava and Kharkiv provinces did not have a signifi cant impact on the monarch; although a year later
the collective responsibility in the rural community was abolished. Under the infl uence of the revolution of 1905 the
manifesto on the abolition of redemption payment was signed by the emperor (3 November, 1905) and the decree on
the sale of the part of the lands to the Peasant Land Bank was prepared (12 August, 1906). At the same time Mykola II
had a negative attitude to the idea of separation of landlords’ lands, which was actively discussed in the Second State
Duma in the spring of 1907, and paid much attention to the reallocation of land and land management.
Originality. Mykola II’s attitudes to the peasant issue in the context of the peasant revolution are studied for
the fi rst time.
Conclusion. The emperor Mykola II did not react to the emergence of «confl ict of interest» issue among peasants
and landowners that needed an urgent solution in the early 20th century. The emperor expected to moderate land
reform and never demanded the separation of landed property and its transfer to the peasants. Mykola II’s «Diaries»
contain a lot of information about the emperor’s meetings with peasant deputations consisting of sergeant majors
and village chiefs. Besides, such events were offi cial and did not refl ect objective information about the mood of the
The peasant uprisings of 1902 attracted the emperor’s attention, and the events of 1905–1907 provoked a
painful reaction and contributed to the beginning of a new land reform. However, Mykola II avoided publicity on the
link between peasant demonstrations and changes in the public policy. «Don’t threaten!» – these words of P. Stolypin,
according to the authors, can serve as a characteristic of Mykola II’s attitude to the peasant issue.

Article Details

How to Cite
Kovalova Н. А. ., & Shmaliukh А. А. . (2021). The emperor Mykola II’s attitude to the peasant issue in the Russian empire (1894–1917). Ukrainian Peasant, (26).
Agrarian history in names
Author Biographies

Nataliia А. Kovalova, SHEI «Ukrainian State University of Chemical Technology»

PhD hab. (History), Professor of Department of Philosophy
and Ukrainian Studies SHEI «Ukrainian State University of Chemical Technology»,
Dnipro, Ukraine
Researcher ID: AAZ-3217-2021

Аlona А. Shmaliukh, Pavlo Tychyna Uman State Pedagogical University

PhD (History), associate professor of
World History and Methodology Department,
Pavlo Tychyna Uman State Pedagogical University,
Uman, Ukraine
Researcher ID: G-5686-2019


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