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|Government||Absolute monarchy (1721-1906) |
Constitutional Monarchy (1906-1917)
The Russian Empire, also called Imperial Russia, was a country in Europe as well as Asia. It started in 1721 when Peter I of Russia proclaimed it. Before that, it was known as the Duchy of Moscow. It lasted until it was declared a republic in March 1917 after the Russian Revolution. It was an absolute monarchy ruled by Russian emperors known as 'Tsars'. They were members of the House of Romanov and believed that they had the divine right of kings over their people.
In 1914, the area of the Russian Empire was about 21,799,825 km². In 1897, its population was 128,200,000 (1897 year). Its official language was the Russian language. Its official church was the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian Empire was led by a Tsar who had complete control of the nation. In this absolute monarchy only the Tsar could make or cancel laws. In 1905 the Tsar granted a new constitution in which he shared some power with a partly elected parliament called the Duma. The Russian Empire was a great power, and one of the biggest empires that ever existed.
Most people in Imperial Russia were peasants. They lived mainly in rural areas until the late 19th century when the Emancipation of the Serfs freed them from the farms where they had to stay. They were allowed to marry whomever they wanted, own property, and vote.
A few people were nobility, also called boyars. They were educated and held higher prestige. Towards the end of the 19th century many of the educated wanted to remove the Tsar and give people more power.
Revolution and after
In 1917, World War I caused the bad conditions for workers in factories to become even worse with a food shortage. People blamed it on the Tsar and rebelled. There were riots in cities such as St Petersburg and Moscow. The Tsar was soon forced to abdicate in the February Revolution in 1917. After the October Revolution he was assassinated with his family. In 1922 most of the Russian Empire became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR when a communist government won the Russian Civil War. Some of the counties in the Empire escaped but the biggest ones were forced into the USSR.