October Manifesto

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The October Manifesto (October 17, 1905[1]) was a document issued by Emperor Nicholas II of Russia at the height of the 1905 Revolution. The terms of the document essentially would revert the Russian autocracy into a constitutional monarchy. Threatened by the events of the 1905 revolution, Nicholas faced the choice of establishing a military dictatorship or granting a constitution. On the advice of Sergey Yulevich Witte, he issued the October Manifesto, which promised to guarantee civil liberties such as free speech, press and assembly, to establish a broad franchise, and to create a legislative body whose members would be elected by popular vote and whose approval would be needed for the enactment of any legislation.

The manifesto satisfied enough of the moderates in the revolution to weaken the forces against the government and allow the revolution to be crushed. Only then did the government go about fulfilling the promises of the manifesto. On April 23, 1906, the Fundamental Laws, which were to serve as a constitution were promulgated. Contrary to the provisions of the October Manifesto, the Duma (Parliament) that was created was Bicameral, and members of only one of the houses were to be popularly elected. Further, the Duma had control only over some types of legislation and none over the executive branch of government. In addition, the civil rights and suffrage rights granted by the Fundamental Laws were far more limited than those promised in the manifesto. The supposed betrayal of the manifesto created a lasting resentment in Russia against the autocracy, and it would finally be defeated with the coming of the February Revolution.


  1. October 30 in the Gregorian Calendar